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 11
Amy Klobuchar Feb 11

Business 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.

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 11
Pete Buttigieg Feb 11

Business 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.