When it comes to the Democratic primary challengers who are either officially or unofficially in the race, the names we see at the top of recent polls are not surprising. Biden, Sanders, Harris, O’Rourke are all names most expected to be the front runners for the nomination.
But one name that has entered the top tier over the past month is one that is not only a surprise but one that most people can’t even pronounce! The emergence of Pete Buttigieg on the scene has the potential to shake up the race, and the strength in the numbers behind his emergence indicates that Buttigieg will indeed, play a critical role in the race for the Democratic nomination.
A couple of weeks ago we detailed how most candidates see a spike in mentions online after an announcement or some other event that places them in the middle of the news cycle, followed by a decline, usually to pre-announcement levels. We pointed out however that Buttigieg was the candidate that had the lowest decline in post-announcement mentions (or in his case, Buttigieg’s CNN town hall appearance).
More than a week after that initial analysis, we now see that Buttigieg’s daily mention count has eclipsed that of his town hall appearance spike. Sustainability is usually the challenge for this kind of attention, but in Buttigieg’s case, he is exhibiting strong growth in online mentions and discussions, the only candidate to do so.
But his growing attention is only half of the story. With additional attention comes additional scrutiny and criticism from supporters of other candidates or parties. This reality tends to lower the average sentiment levels expressed in candidate mentions. However, the sentiment expressed in Buttigieg’s mentions has consistently remained intensely positive as well.
The observed levels of positive, sustained attention that Buttigieg has earned for himself indicates that he will remain in the top tier and it will provide him with the opportunity to increase his exposure in a manner that other candidates that were not well-known before their candidacies will have a hard time matching. In other words, look for Buttigieg to grow his support base in the coming weeks.