Amy Klobuchar's Rise in Polls, Appeal to Older Voters Is Eating Away at Biden and Buttigieg Support: Pollster

Senator Amy Klobuchar's recent rise in the polls and appeal among older voters is "directly impacting" former Vice President Joe Biden and ex-South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a top pollster said.

Emerson College Polling director Spencer Kimball told Newsweek that the Minnesota Democrat had a better chance of performing well in South Carolina than Buttigieg and is winning support from older voters "looking for a candidate with experience."

Kimball also predicted that Klobuchar could benefit from a "negative campaign fight" between Biden and Buttigieg by pitching herself as "the alternative moderate voice in the room."

Although Klobuchar has not seen a significant boost to her national polling average since 2020 Democratic nominating contests began, she has surged in New Hampshire primary polls over the last few days.

Two surveys released by Emerson and Suffolk University on Sunday had Klobuchar in third place among Democratic voters in the Granite State, putting her ahead of former frontrunners Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Her averages in the state also shot up following Friday's ABC News debate, with the RealClearPolitics average of New Hampshire primary polls putting her slightly above Biden and Warren at 11.7 percent, up four points on Saturday.

"This is directly impacting Joe Biden and in a lesser degree Pete Buttigieg. Joe voters are older and want experience, Pete voters are also older but looking for more of an outsider," Kimball told Newsweek.

Kimball said support for Klobuchar in the first four Democratic nominating contests will come from voters over 50, particularly older women, who are forming her early base.

In the early hours of this morning on Tuesday, which is New Hampshire's primary day, Klobuchar had won the most votes in three small townships that cast votes shortly after midnight.

Sussex University Political Research Center director David Paleologos said Klobuchar's support was coming from Buttigieg and prior undecided voters.

"In Iowa, her base was moderates, some older voters, and the northern counties that touched the border of her home state of Minnesota," he told Newsweek. "In New Hampshire, her strength is older voters. Some in this demographic block have rotated from Biden to Buttigieg and now to Klobuchar."

While polling averages by FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics show Biden's support declining and Klobuchar's rising, a similar trend cannot be seen in Buttigieg's numbers.

Buttigieg has surged from a 13 percent average on February 2 to 21.4 percent a week later, according to FiveThirtyEight's tracker.

Looking ahead to the Nevada and South Carolina contests later in February, Paleologos said it was not clear which voters Klobuchar's campaign will pitch to.

"Without having current polling, it is hard to say. In our Nevada poll last month, Klobuchar received less than 4 percent from likely Democratic caucus-goers," Paleologos told Newsweek.

"This potentially sets the stage for an 'improvement' narrative as polls are released over the next week in Nevada comparing her standing from then to now."

The limited and dated polling available for Nevada and South Carolina puts Klobuchar in a distant eighth, according to FiveThirtyEight averages.

Fresh surveys before the Nevada caucus on February 22 could boost her position, particularly if she performs well in New Hampshire today.

Asked for his view on how Klobuchar might operate in Nevada and South Carolina, Kimball said she would have an easier time in the Nevada caucus because the state's voters are older.

"But South Carolina will be more difficult as a primary state and a Biden firewall," Kimball told Newsweek.

"She does have a better chance there than Pete since she pulls from older voters who want experience and that is similar to the South Carolina constituency."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar in New Hampshire
Amy Klobuchar speaks to a crowd at a town hall in Exeter, New Hampshire on February 10, 2020. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images