Pete Buttigieg is the top choice for the Democratic nomination in a crucial and eye-opening new poll

Pete Buttigieg

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has topped a new poll which could prove crucial to his campaign.

Mayor Pete, as he is known to the residents of South Bend, Indiana, led the pack in a Monmouth University poll of Iowa caucus voters released on Tuesday, November 12.

Buttigieg garnered 22 per cent support, just ahead of former vice president Joe Biden (19) and Elizabeth Warren (18). Bernie Sanders was just behind on 13 per cent.

Because of the margin of error, pollsters were unable to declare a definitive winner among the top three, however the news will come as a welcome boost to the gay politician’s campaign.

He is doing well with voters regardless of education or ideology.

“Buttigieg is emerging as a top pick for a wide variety of Iowa Democrats, said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

“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.”

Murray said that Iowa voters “are used to changing their minds up to the last minute. In fact, some probably even look forward to waiting until caucus night to settle on a candidate.

“This all translates to a race that is extremely fluid and will probably stay that way up to [the caucus on] 3 February.”

Why are the Iowa caucuses so important?

Iowa is a small, sparsely populated rural state, populated mostly by white conservative Christians.

It is one of just 10 states to use the archaic caucus system, whereby the electorate decides which candidate to support through open votes.

Turnout tends to be low, with about 1 percent of the nation’s delegates (who choose the final candidate) returned from the state.

Despite this, the Iowa caucuses are considered an important step on the road to the White House.

As the first vote in the primary season, they are seen as an indicator for subsequent larger votes, and can change the course of a campaign.

In 2008, Barack Obama’s Iowa victory over the then-favourite Hilary Clinton gave his presidential bid fresh momentum, while in 2016, Clinton won a boost after a narrow victory over her opponent Bernie Sanders.

How is Pete Buttigieg polling nationally?

In national polls, Buttigieg – who would become the first openly-gay US president were he elected to the White House – is trailing behind the three frontrunners.

A RealClearPolitics polling average published on Friday, November 15 put Buttigieg on 8 per cent, being Biden (26), Warren (20.8) and Sanders (17.8), but above Kamala Harris (5.3).