ALLENDALE, S.C. — When Pete Buttigieg goes to Iowa or New Hampshire, he’s a Democratic presidential frontrunner who packs campaign venues. But when Buttigieg goes to South Carolina, he’s far from the top — and his campaign is shaking up its strategy to reflect his single-digit polling there.
Having failed to gain traction with African American voters so far this campaign, Buttigieg’s campaign is taking a different approach to his three-day swing through South Carolina: Keep it small. The South Bend, Ind., mayor opted for largely invitation-only roundtables and private sit-downs with African American leaders in the state, where the Democratic electorate is majority-black.
It’s a strikingly different approach to the one Buttigieg takes in the first two early states, where he has surged into a group of four frontrunners in recent polling — and where he has seven public town halls scheduled over four days later this week, for example. But as Buttigieg tries to break in with African American voters, he’s leaning on “very, very intimate” settings, said Matt Bowman, who hosted Buttigieg at his vineyard in Round O, S.C., for a conversation on black entrepreneurship with two dozen people.