Why Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg clashed more than ever in the Vegas debate

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg sparred on multiple occasions during Wednesday night's debate in Las Vegas.
  • More than 70% of Klobuchar's supporters say they would also be satisfied with Buttigieg as the Democratic nominee, according to the seven polls Insider conducted between December and early February.
  • "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete," Klobuchar quipped after Buttigieg criticized her over her record.
  • "I thought what he did was personal," Klobuchar added in an interview with MSNBC after the debate.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

With an insurgent Bernie Sanders and a wounded Michael Bloomberg on the debate stage in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, it may have been surprising to see Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg butt heads on several occasions.

However, a look at the numbers shows why the two Midwestern moderates would have an incentive to knock the other down a peg.

More than 70% of Klobuchar's supporters are at least Pete-curious, telling Insider they would be perfectly fine with him as the nominee through seven polls conducted between December and early February.

Amy Klobuchar Feb 11Business Insider

By contrast, Buttigieg's opponent with the most crossover among his supporters is Elizabeth Warren at 68.7%, with Klobuchar in fourth at 45%. 

After a two-three finish in New Hampshire, the two candidates did everything in their power to push the other aside in Vegas. 

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The Democratic Debate in Nevada
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The Democratic Debate in Nevada
From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, left, listens as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speak during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., right, speaks as former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg looks on during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, and former Vice President Joe Biden gesture during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, right, reach for former Vice President Joe Biden during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Los aspirantes a la candidatura demócrata a la presidencia de Estados Unidos Mike Bloomberg, a la izquierda, exalcalde de Nueva York, y Elizabeth Warren, senadora de Massachusetts, hablan durante un receso en un debate para las primarias demócratas el miércoles 19 de febrero de 2020 en Las Vegas, Estados Unidos organizado por NBC News y MSNBC. (AP Foto/John Locher)
From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., talks in the spin room after a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/Matt York)
From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., right, talks in the spin room after a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., waits to do an interview in the spin room after a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is interviewed in the spin room after a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Democratic presidential candidate, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is intervened in the spin room after a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., greets guests after a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, left, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., talk during a break at a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., right, speaks as former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg looks on during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden talk during a break in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, left, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and former Vice President Joe Biden talk during a break in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Guests watch Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and former Vice President Joe Biden speak on a big screen during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg arrives for a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talk during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, right, reach for former Vice President Joe Biden during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg talk during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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Things started to get heated when Buttigieg criticized Klobuchar for being unable to name the president of Mexico during an interview in Nevada earlier this week.

Buttigieg told the same reporter, "Yeah, President [Andrés] Lopez Obrador, I hope."

Klobuchar took exception to the swipe.

"I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete," she quipped. 

Klobuchar hit Buttigieg on his lack of political experience and for sticking to "talking points."

The two did not shake hands afterwards. 

Pete Buttigieg Feb 11Business Insider

In an interview with MSNBC in the "spin room," Klobuchar said other candidates told her they have forgotten the names of important figures before, and that Buttigieg was out of line. 

"I thought what he did was personal," she told Chris Matthews. "… It was one error and he decided to make that the centerpiece of his attack."

Klobuchar the lamented the overall tone of the evening, which saw far more fireworks than previous debates. 

"Not my favorite night for the Democratic Party," Klobuchar told Matthews.

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weigh its sample based on race or income. 

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