Openly gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has placed third in two recent US election polls, one of which ranks him ahead of former vice president Joe Biden.
A new straw poll from political action group Democracy for America (DFA), taken between April 1 and 19, sees Buttigieg reach third place with 10% of the vote. This puts him marginally behind Elizabeth Warren (11%), but ahead of Biden, who only achieved 8%.
This result marks a considerable improvement for Buttigieg, who won only 4% of the vote in the last survey by the same group. Both Warren and Buttigieg, however, fell far short of the 42% won by experienced senator Bernie Sanders.
The poll, which reflects only the opinions of DFA members, is not necessarily indicative of public opinion. Nonetheless, it shows a considerable jump in support for Buttigieg within the DFA’s million-strong membership, which played a key role in Sanders’ 2016 campaign against Hilary Clinton.
A second poll, taken between April 15 and 21 by Morning Consult, surveyed US voters more generally. It put Buttigieg in third place with 9% of the vote, this time behind Biden (30%) and Sanders (24%).
Pete Buttigieg: “I know bait when I see it”
At a televised CNN town hall debate with Sanders, Warren and two other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination this Monday night, Pete Buttigieg shut down questions regarding his history of conflict with Vice President Mike Pence.
Moderator Anderson Cooper asked Buttigieg to reply to the US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who has accused him of “pushing a hate hoax along the lines of Jussie Smollett,” with regard to Pence.
Buttigieg responded, “I’m not a master fisherman but I know bait when I see it and I’m not gonna take it.”
He and Pence have been exchanging insults ever since, on April 7, he accused Pence of having a problem with his identity as a gay man.
Speaking at the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in Washington, he said “If me being gay was a choice it was a choice made far, far above my pay grade. And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
Three days later, on April 10, Pence told CNBC that Buttigieg had “said some things that are critical of my Christian faith and about me personally.”
Buttigieg is the current mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He came out as gay while campaigning for his second term – which began in 2015, when Pence was the state’s governor.
In the course of his governorship of Indiana, Pence signed into law a bill allowing businesses and churches to refuse service to anyone on religious grounds. Following a national outcry, an amendment was passed introducing protection for LGBT+ people.
Buttigieg is the first serious openly gay presidential candidate for a major party in US history, and if elected he could become America’s first gay president.
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