De Blasio: I might not make the first debate

The Democrats have set a fairly low bar to qualify for the first round of debates this summer, but it’s still a bar nonetheless. Not everyone is on track to meet it either. The ones in danger of not making the cut include New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, despite having gotten into the race relatively early and being the beneficiary of significant earned media. And now New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the race (for some reason) and is facing the same challenges. Will he be able to qualify? Even Hizzoner doesn’t seem to think so. (Politico)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged Friday he may not qualify for the first presidential debate next month, but argued that isn’t a telltale sign about his overall chances of winning the Democratic nomination.

As he kicked off his campaign here in the nation’s first presidential selection state, the mayor said he has achieved one debate stage requirement: securing at least 1 percent in three polls. But given the size of the Democratic field, which now totals 23 candidates, he may also need to raise contributions from 65,000 individual donors.

De Blasio opened a federal campaign account Thursday. Per election rules, he cannot transfer any of the money he had been raising since last fall for the state and federal political action committees he set up as he mulled a White House bid.

I’m not sure where de Blasio is coming up with the three polls where he scores 1% or above. The latest Fox poll yesterday didn’t even include him. Monday’s Morning Consult survey did include de Blasio, but he literally registered 0%. Not one person picked him as their favorite. The Emerson poll on the same day didn’t include the mayor.

And let’s remember that the rules say that it has to be a reputable poll taken either nationally or in one of the early voting states. You can’t just send your wife out to ask thirty people in Central Park and come back saying you scored ten percent.

To be fair, none of these surveys were taken after de Blasio’s official announcement that he was running. Any candidate – possibly even de Blasio – can hope for some sort of bump or boomlet after their announcement, so maybe we’re all reading the cards wrong and there’s some sort of hidden pocket of de Blasio support lurking out there. But color me dubious at best.

The second half of the formula is the fundraising part. He’ll need to take in money from 65,000 people from a minimum of 20 states, including at least 200 unique donors per state. He only just opened up his campaign account on Thursday and he can’t transfer any of his PAC money or previous donations into it. Just doing one of those two things could qualify him for a spot in the debates, but the Democrats have already placed a limit on the total number of participants at twenty. Preference will be given to candidates who achieve both the polling numbers and fundraising goal if more than 20 qualify. Beyond that, they’ll pare it down by total polling numbers if they have to.

So where does that leave Bill de Blasio? In this one case, he’s probably correct. I’m guessing it will leave him watching the debates on television like the rest of us.