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If the Democratic presidential primary was today in New Hampshire, former vice president Joe Biden would easily win, according to a recent Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll.

But the primary isn’t today, and the survey says there’s one candidate who is rapidly gaining ground with voters 10 months out from the big day: Openly gay South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The poll shows Biden leading with 22.9 percent of Democratic Primary voters, followed by socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont with 16 percent, and Buttigieg in third with 11 percent. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the pick for 8.7 percent, while 13.2 percent had no opinion.

New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque provided the context on how data has shifted over the last couple of months:

Biden’s favorability has dropped 10 points to 70% since our last poll in February, suggesting that some of his recent negative attention may be eroding his support. Still, he leads the rest of the field among women, with 25%, and men, with 20%. Sanders leads the field among voters under 55, with 18%, and very liberal voters, with 21%. The early battle in NH seems to be between two familiar faces that represent different wings of the Democratic Party.

The emerging dark horse in this race may be Pete Buttigieg, who has gone from a virtual unknown to vault to 11% support, trailing only Biden and Sanders and ahead of Warren. His emergence as a factor is driven by a 33-point increase in name recognition, almost all of favorable. He even carries a slight 16-14 lead over Sanders in vote-rich Merrimack Valley.

The poll’s data show Buttigieg’s “favorable” figure went from 11.7 in February to 42.3 in April — a 400 percent increase — while his “unfavorable” figure also increased slightly, from 2.6 to 5.5. Buttigieg’s “Name ID,” meanwhile, shot from 36.7 in February to 69.9 this month.

Biden, on the other hand, is maxed out on “Name ID” at 100, up just .4 since February, but his “favorable” number is down from 80 to 70.3, while his “unfavorable” figure is on the rise – going from 12.8 in February to 18.3 in April.

The changes are hardly surprising, as Biden has struggled to address why he constantly nuzzles, sniffs, and touches women and children without their permission, and Buttigieg has catered to radical factions of the Democrat party by apologizing for saying “all lives matter” and questioning Vice President Mike Pence’s religious convictions.

At the moment, “Creepy Uncle Joe” continues to lead national Democrat primary polls despite the fact that he hasn’t formally announced he’s running for president in 2020. Nearly all recent polls show Sanders in second, and either former Texas U.S. Rep. Robert O’Rourke or California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris in third, according to Real Clear Politics.

Buttigieg has polled in fifth or sixth place in most recent polls, though he didn’t even register as a contender until mid-March.

CNN explained the factors driving the liberal infatuation with “Mayor Pete” in “Chris Cillizza and Harry Enten’s definitive Democratic 2020 power rankings.”

“Buttigieg – powered by a series of strong performance sin national TV interviews as well as several viral moments (speaking Norwegian, talking about his marriage to husband Chasten) – has rocketed to the edge of the top tier in this month’s rankings,” CNN “reports.”

“And it’s not just buzz, which, last time we checked, doesn’t pay for staff or TV ads in Iowa. It’s real money, too: Buttigieg raked in more than $7 million in the first three months of the year, eclipsing the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker and Amy Klobuchar in the process.”

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