By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS  — South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has joined former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the top of the leaderboard in the third Monmouth University Poll of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses. Buttigieg’s gains since the summer have been across the board, with increasing support coming from nearly every demographic group.  Regardless, less than one-third of likely caucusgoers say that they are firmly set on their choice of candidate and most would not be too disappointed if they had to switch their support.  

The poll also finds that Mike Bloomberg receives a chilly reception among Hawkeye State Democrats as he considers whether to make a late entry into the nomination contest. Four candidates are currently vying for the top spot in Iowa’s caucuses – Buttigieg (22%), Biden (19%), Warren (18%), and Sanders (13%).  

Compared to Monmouth’s August poll, Buttigieg has gained 14 points (up from 8%) and Sanders has gained 5 points (up from 8%), while Biden has lost 7 points (down from 26%), and Warren’s standing has changed by only 2 points (20% previously). Buttigieg has gained ground among every major demographic group since the summer. His support stands at 26% among voters who describe themselves as moderate or conservative, 23% among those who are somewhat liberal, and 15% among those who are very liberal. He is currently in the top tier for both women (24%, to 22% for Biden, and 20% for Warren), and men (20%, to 19% for Sanders and 16% for Warren).   “Buttigieg is emerging as a top pick for a wide variety of Iowa Democrats. While he has made nominally bigger gains among older caucusgoers, you really can’t pigeonhole his support to one particular group. He is doing well with voters regardless of education or ideology,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Buttigieg airing Medicare ad in Iowa

Pete for America announced a television ad buy focused on Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s signature Medicare for All Who Want It proposal. The new 30-second spot “Refreshing,” will run statewide on television and digital. The ad highlights Iowans’ support for Pete’s Medicare for All Who Want It plan, which combats the rising cost of health care while providing Americans with the freedom to choose the best health care plan for themselves and their families. 

Buttigieg seeks a coalition

As Pete Buttigieg boarded his campaign bus Monday afternoon, a New Hampshire voter stopped him to ask if campaign staffers were hawking “Republicans for Pete” stickers yet. They aren’t. But Buttigieg, who’s staking out center-left ground in the Democratic presidential primary, is trying to build a coalition of unaffiliated voters to go along with Democrats and make a surprise splash in the open-primary state featuring two senators-next-door, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, campaigning on the left (Politico). At town halls during his latest swing across New Hampshire, Buttigieg name-checked “future former Republicans” in the same breath as “progressives and moderates ... ready for some kind of change.” His organizers are targeting independent voters from the new field offices Buttigieg opened this fall. And while Buttigieg is polling well in both Iowa and New Hampshire right now, jockeying for first place in the caucus state and breaking into double-digits in several recent polls of each state, the presence of non-Democrats in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, unlike Iowa’s closed caucus system, could prove decisive in a tight Democratic nominating race that has divided sharply along ideological lines in recent months. “We’re running in the Democratic primary and I’m running on the values that make me a Democrat, but there is room for a lot of people,” Buttigieg said. “We’re definitely going to make sure we’re reaching out and cultivating folks who are ready to cross sides.”

Governor

Holcomb approval at 50% in BSU Poll

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s approval rating is very similar to his approval ratings in the two previous years, standing at 50% in the Ball State University Hoosier Poll. Only 17% of Hoosiers expressed disapproval of the governor. Approximately 33% of Hoosiers expressed no opinion about his job performance or said they had never heard of him. The Indiana General Assembly’s job approval rating is at 45%. At 19%, disapproval is at the lowest point measured in the history of this survey. 

Melton committed to governor’s race

State Sen. Eddie Melton said he will remain in the governor’s race and not pursue the open 1st CD race. “Rep. Visclosky is a powerful member of Congress with a passion for improving the lives in his district and this nation,” Melton said. “I have been lucky enough to have a front seat to his leadership throughout my lifetime and I couldn’t be more grateful for his work. I have been humbled by the outpouring of bi-partisan support encouraging me to pursue this congressional seat in 2020, but as I said upon my announcement, I am firmly committed to becoming the next governor of Indiana and fighting to improve the quality of life of every Hoosier.” So far Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., and North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan have said they will pursue the 1st CD. Bill Hanna, president and CEO of the Northwest Regional Development Authority is also being encouraged to run.

Holcomb endorsed by State Police Alliance

Gov. Eric Holcomb joined Cory Martin, executive director of the Indiana State Police Alliance, and active and retired state troopers as the organization announced it is endorsing the governor’s 2020 reelection bid. “It is very apparent that through countless interactions, Gov. Holcomb not only supports our members but truly cares about them as one Hoosier to another,” said Martin. “He truly does put people first.” 

Statewides

Hill announces for reelection
 
Attorney General Curtis Hill announced that he is running for re-election in 2020: “Over the last three years, I have worked to fulfill my pledge to Hoosiers: from cracking down on violent criminals to protecting the most vulnerable in our society. Standing for what’s right is harder than ever, but I do it every day with courage and conviction as Attorney General, and I’m just getting started. That’s why, today, I am announcing my re-election campaign for Attorney General. Indiana needs strength, courage, and bold conservative leadership,” Curtis Hill said. “At a time when freedom and our way of life are under attack, I’ll continue to work with President Trump, and others, on important issues facing our nation and state. I’ll never back down from partisan attacks, the media, and even Republicans embarrassed to defend our values,” Hill added. The BSU Poll tested Hill for the first time. Large percentages of Hoosiers either have not heard of Curtis Hill (11%) or didn’t express an opinion (36%). Only 38% of respondents approved of the attorney general’s job performance; 15% expressed disapproval. As might be expected, Democrats were most likely to express disapproval. Republicans were more likely than Democrats or Independents to express approval, but even among Hill’s fellow party members, fewer than half (48%) expressed approval.