I have to admit; I was wondering if this day was ever going to come. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has finally qualified for a Democratic primary debate.
After joining the race much later than most of his opponents and then struggling to become nationally known in an overly crowded candidate field, it was beginning to feel like he’d never make it.
But made it, he has. And none too soon, thanks to a redistribution of Democratic National Committee’s qualifications for the upcoming debates.
According to USA Today, “candidates must receive 10% or more in at least four polls between Jan. 15 and Feb. 18, which include national polls or Nevada and South Carolina state polls, or hit at least 12% in two polls in Nevada and South Carolina.”
Democratic candidates may also qualify if they get at least one delegate either in Iowa or New Hampshire.
But the most significant change is that the DNC has also dropped any donor requirements to be made, something Bloomberg has stoutly refused to participate in. And for good reason. Could you imagine a billionaire like himself asking for money to campaign?
However, the recent change paints somewhat of a target on Bloomberg’s back, as it seems like the rules were changed just for him. Already, current and former opponents of his are complaining that the DNC is playing favorites and helping Bloomberg buy the presidency.
Cory Booker, for instance, has long since accused the DNC of treating some of its contenders not nearly as fairly as others. He stated on Friday, shortly after the new rule changes were announced that if they had used the same rules throughout, instead of changing them as they go, depending on the candidates, he might still be in the race. He said that he and his campaign worked tirelessly to make the debate threshold, and now it seems to be all for naught.
Not that the donor threshold was the only thing holding Bloomberg back. Until as recently as December, the former mayor has found himself relatively low in the polls, coming in with only 4% of the democratic vote. But those numbers have slowly been going up.
On Tuesday, the last day to possibly to do so, he made the cut-off, as a new poll by NPR, PBS, and Marist shows him squarely in second place with 19%. And no, this is not an outlier. Marist is a well-respected poll and one whose sample size is anything but small.
But it’s not his qualification so much as the quickly amassed support that is most surprising. So, where are these numbers coming from? Who is losing at Bloomberg’s expense? Well, just about everyone but Sanders, at least for the time being.
As Bloomberg’s support rises steadily, former vice president Joe Biden’s has dropped, as has Pete Buttigieg’s and Amy Klobuchar’s. Bloomberg now sits with more than double the support of both Mayor Pete and Elizabeth Warren’s opponent for the only woman candidate.
The demographics of the poll, while not giving Bloomberg any definite lead, implies that he isn’t doing poorly either. He still trails both Bernie and Biden with minorities but has 16% of the African American vote. As for moderate democrats and independents, they give him 29%, putting him ahead of Biden by 6%.
So it isn’t astonishing that since he seems to be beating out everyone except Sanders, the Vermont senator would be his most prominent target. Before this newest poll even came out, Bloomberg attacked Sanders, heavily criticizing him for his Bernie Bros’ recent behavior. Bloomberg rightly stated that Sanders should not tolerate such activity from his supporters and should be doing more to stop it.
It will be interesting to see if this attack continues as the debate draws nearer, trying to sink what could be his arch-rival any lower. Then again, Bloomberg will most likely find himself on the defense for most of the night and well into the future as article after article has recently been published about his not-so-nice remarks about women and minorities.
Joining Bloomberg in the Nevada debate are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg.