Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg talks with attendees at a campaign event in Fairfield, Iowa, on Aug. 15. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
ANALYSIS — One state down, and many states to go. In one respect, Pete Buttigieg “won” the Iowa caucuses Monday evening regardless whether he finishes first in delegates or in the popular vote.
One year ago, Buttigieg was a mere asterisk in the Democratic contest. Then 37 years old and the gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg seemed unlikely to raise the necessary money or excite Democratic voters, who were likely to gravitate to better-known officeholders like former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Even former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, fresh off an unsuccessful but enthusiasm-generating Senate campaign, seemed like a potentially more significant hopeful in the Democratic field.