brian

In the waning minutes before the Pete Buttigieg team event
at Wise Man Brewing on Monday, a young couple made their way to the door, one
of them holding a baby and the other a leash attached to a mid-sized, furry
dog.

Like most of the people in the cavernous space, they were
here for the beer. But the Buttigieg campaign drew perhaps 50 people before it
was all over, here to strategize before Super Tuesday and to welcome the national
campaign staffer, Eric Tallman, fresh off the plane from New Hampshire, where
Mayor Pete solidified his presence at the front of the pack of Democratic
presidential candidates with a close second-place finish behind Sen. Bernie
Sanders.

Tallman’s young, lean, with an earnest haircut and crew-neck
Buttigieg sweatshirt. He wears sleek glasses with clear, oval frames and black
arms, and when he stands on a chair to address the people, he knows what to
say.

“It’s awesome to see the energy and excitement here,”
he tells them before imploring them to “kick it into high gear,” with
fundraising events, list-building and door-knocking, how important they all are
to the cause.

“That field margin,” he says, referring to the efficacy of
the Buttigieg ground game, “that’s how we win.”

Eric Tallman, an organizer for the Pete Buttigieg campaign, talks to a staffer at Wise Man Brewing in WInston-Salem.

What to say about the Buttigieg folks? They’re all white,
predominantly Boomers with about a third Gen X and even a few Millennials
scattered around. A lot of them have great haircuts and excellent glasses:
square, wide wire-rims under a red brush cut; clear plastic cat’s eyes with a
hint of grey tortoiseshell; oval half-frames with progressive lenses; round,
aquamarine frames under a stark-white fauxhawk. They are, by a slim margin,
men.

It makes one wonder about the demographics of Mayor Pete’s
coalition. What are the threads that will ultimately bind them? He’s gay but
there’s no visible LGBTQ+ presence at this event — no rainbows or “Gays for
Pete” signs, anyway. He’s ex-military, but none of the attendees are of the
conspicuous pro-military type — no Marine insignia or veteran ballcaps or
anything like that. Midwesterners? Maybe. Beards? Not even tonight in the
brewery.

Bearded Americans seem to be going for Bernie, in my
informal calculus, which is also where the youth vote is swaying.

Not Drew Skilton. He’s a Wake Forest University freshman
majoring in political science and communication, and he’s head of what an
organizer told me was the largest campus Buttigieg group in North Carolina. No
glasses, though.

Wake students, he says, are not all that political.

“I think a lot of people try to keep it on the down-low,” he
says. “But as the election comes up people will start to get involved.

“Day to day, not so much,” he adds.

He knows that most of his Gen Z cohort backs Bernie, but
he’s not on the train. Yet.

“I consider myself more of a moderate Democrat,” he says.

Wake Forest freshman Drew Skilton, right, with fellow college Democrat Ethan Werner, left, pose with a cutout of their candidate, center.

Like all Democrats right now, he’s concerned about the
Bloomberg money machine, the dark horse of Elizabeth Warren and the fact that,
should Mayor Pete get the nomination, he might not be able to count on Bernie’s
voters coming aboard.

“Nothing against Bernie,” he says. “I’m blue no matter who.
No matter who the Democrat is — I hope it will be Pete — the end game is to
beat Donald Trump. That’s what I push. Vote Democrat no matter who. I think the
kids on campus see the end game.”

He’d better hope so, because it’s going to take more than
thoughtful white people with glasses to put Mayor Pete in the White House.

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