AP

2020 Watch: On eve of New Hampshire, is Mayor Pete for real?

Feb 10, 2020, 6:25 AM
primary...
FILE: Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks to an audience during a campaign rally, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Dover, N.H. Buttigieg hosted a town hall meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 17 where more than 4,500 people showed up. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Presidential politics move fast. What we’re watching heading into a new week on the 2020 campaign:

___

Days to New Hampshire primary: 1

Days to general election: 267

___

THE NARRATIVE

Chaos in Iowa has sparked a deep sense of anxiety among Democrats, who hoped the kickoff contest would provide clarity and evidence of excitement at the official starting line of the 2020 primary season. Results were unclear, and turnout disappointed. Instead, New Hampshire voters on Tuesday are under the weight of deepening concerns about Democratic enthusiasm and glaring flaws in their leading presidential candidates. The stakes are greatest for longtime front-runner Joe Biden and progressive powerhouse Elizabeth Warren, who cannot afford to fall out of the top two in a second consecutive contest as Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg aim to tighten their grip on front-runner status. At the same time, Amy Klobuchar threatens to break into the top tier at another candidate’s expense. Not in New Hampshire, but very much part of the race, Mike Bloomberg waits for Super Tuesday. And President Donald Trump is loving it.

___

THE BIG QUESTIONS

Is Mayor Pete for real?

A former two-term vice president, a three-term Minnesota senator and a 38-year-old former small-city mayor walk into New Hampshire. Don’t tell us you predicted that the former municipal official would be a top candidate on the eve of the state’s primary. But that’s exactly what’s happening as Buttigieg appears to be cruising in the so-called moderate lane of voters seeking a more “electable” center-left candidate. The energy around Buttigieg’s candidacy is real. So, too, is the lack of it around Biden, who entered the race as the establishment favorite. At the same time, a strong debate performance on Friday has prompted a second look at Sen. Amy Klobuchar. This could end up being a dream scenario for Buttigieg and a nightmare for Biden.

Is the neighbors’ primary already over?

For much of the last year, Democrats in New Hampshire were expecting two tracks in their presidential primary: a competition between the two neighboring senators, Sanders and Warren, and a competition among everybody else. Now, polling suggests that Sanders is dominating the neighbors’ primary as Warren struggles. She insists she’s in it for the long haul, but it’s difficult to imagine her generating the kind of financial support she needs to stay in the race much longer without a stronger-than-expected finish on Tuesday.

Will turnout rebound?

Perhaps as much as the muddled mess connected to Iowa’s reporting failures, Democrats are nervous about the turnout in last week’s kickoff caucuses, which is an important marker of enthusiasm for the party. Iowa officials predicted turnout would rival 2008, when a record 238,000 people showed up for the Democratic contest. The final 2020 tally: 176,000. That hurts. In New Hampshire, longtime Secretary of State Bill Gardner has projected Democratic turnout will hit 292,000, which would be slightly higher than the 289,000 Democrats who voted in the 2008 primary. Should Democrats fail to meet projections in a second consecutive contest that will call into question the conventional wisdom about Democratic enthusiasm in the Trump era.

Can Trump stay out of his own way?

Trump enters the week at a new high point in his turbulent presidency. He took a vitriolic victory lap after his Senate acquittal, celebrated another strong employment report and cheered on Democrats’ disarray. Gallup reported his approval rating at 49%, which for any other president would be decent, but it actually marks the polling firm’s highest number for Trump’s entire presidency. But Trump has a talent for getting in his own way when times are good. Democrats are hoping for another unforced error, even as the reality begins to set in that the Republican president is well-positioned to win reelection.

Will the case for Bloomberg grow?

Democrats may be in disarray, but we know of at least one who’s feeling pretty good right now: Bloomberg. People scoffed at the New York billionaire’s plan to skip the first four four primary contests, but all of a sudden we’re starting to hear from some actual voters — not political pundits or donors — who see Bloomberg as a viable long-term option. The former New York City mayor, of course, has faced virtually zero scrutiny as a presidential candidate, having been excluded from presidential debates and avoiding tough questions from voters at his highly produced events. But for those Democrats concerned about a 2020 field led by Sanders and Buttigieg, Bloomberg’s stock is ticking up.

___

THE FINAL THOUGHT

Warren has suddenly become an afterthought in the 2020 primary, even after finishing a strong third in Iowa. The stakes are enormous for the Massachusetts senator on Tuesday. With a home-field advantage, she was supposed to compete for the top spot in New Hampshire. Yet if polls are to believed, she’s slipping dangerously. If she can’t win in New Hampshire, where can she?

___

2020 Watch runs every Monday and provides a look at the week ahead in the 2020 election.

___

Follow Peoples at https://twitter.com/sppeoples

___

Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

Today’s Top Stories

AP

Four Dead University of Idaho...
NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press

Coroner: Idaho students were stabbed to death in their beds

Four University of Idaho students who were found dead in a rental house Sunday were stabbed to death in their beds and likely were asleep.
2 months ago
FILE - In this photo provided by the National Park Service is the Abyss Pool hot spring in the sout...
The Associated Press

Foot found in Yellowstone hot pool ID’d as that of LA man

Yellowstone National Park officials say a foot found in July belongs to a 70-year-old man from California.
2 months ago
people protest in iran...
Associated Press

UN office urges Iran to free detained peaceful protesters

Spokesman Jeremy Laurence of the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was calling for all charges to be dropped.
3 months ago
Gas pump is pictured, us inflation has eased...
PAUL WISEMAN AP Economics Writer

US consumer inflation eased to 7.7% over past 12 months

Consumer inflation reached 7.7% in October from a year earlier and 0.4% from September, the Labor Department said Thursday.
3 months ago
Aaron Carter, the singer-rapper who began performing as a child and had hit albums starting in his ...
CNN

Singer-rapper Aaron Carter dies in California at age 34

Aaron Carter, the singer-rapper who began performing as a child and had hit albums starting in his teen years, was found dead
3 months ago
SLC Taffy...
DEE-ANN DURBIN AP Business Writer

Trick or trash: Candy makers grapple with plastic waste

Even when companies make the effort to recycle candy wrappers, they produce such low-value plastic that it doesn’t recoup the cost of recycling.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
2020 Watch: On eve of New Hampshire, is Mayor Pete for real?