Bloomberg makes it in for Nevada debate

When we looked at the new DNC debate qualification rules yesterday, the only outstanding question was whether Michael Bloomberg would get the last poll he needed to make it onto the stage or if we’d just wind up with the same five candidates we saw last time. That question was answered last night when a new Marist poll saw Mayor “Throw Them Up Against the Wall” surging to 19 percent nationally, pulling into second place behind Bernie Sanders. That was the fourth poll in the past month showing Bloomberg in double digits, leading to the Nevada debate invitation since the donor requirements have been dropped.

Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York has qualified for Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas, the first time the billionaire will appear onstage alongside his Democratic presidential rivals.

A national poll from NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist released on Tuesday showed Mr. Bloomberg with 19 percent support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, putting him in second place behind Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who had 31 percent. That was a substantial surge since the group’s poll in December, when Mr. Bloomberg received only 4 percent support…

The debate, which will air on Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern time, will be hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and The Nevada Independent.

It’s kind of hard to write this one off as an outlier (unlike that weird poll showing Steyer leading in Nevada with Klobuchar in second). Marist is well established and the sample size in this one was fairly robust.

Here’s one odd factor to consider. Bloomberg may be on the stage in Nevada, but he hasn’t even been campaigning in that state. In fact, until just this week he wasn’t even running any ads there. And the new ads are only targeting the Reno market because it crosses over into part of California. We should keep in mind the old rule about retail politicking in caucus states. You know… if you don’t go and personally shake everybody’s hand at least twice there’s no way they’re going to vote for you. So just showing up for the debate isn’t likely to give Mike a leg up in the caucus.

Nationally, Bloomberg is breaking all sorts of rules it seems. He shouldn’t be doing well with minority voters, given his reputation as Mr. Stop and Frisk. And yet when you look into the crosstabs on this poll, he pulls a very respectable 19% of the non-white vote, including 16% among African-Americans. (He still trails both Sanders and Biden in both categories, but those are surprisingly solid numbers.)

Where Bloomberg really cleans up is with the self-described “moderate” Democrats and independents. In that Demographic he’s getting 29% support. But he doesn’t appear to be drawing from Biden’s pool of moderate voters because he’s still ringing up 23%. Bloomberg looks to have primarily sucked all the life out of Buttigieg’s campaign because Mayor Pete is only registering 8% with moderates and 7% with progressives.

While this is probably generating a lot of excitement among Bloomberg fans (since I guess we’re assuming that such people now exist), it’s worth noting that this is only one poll and Bloomberg is still trailing Sanders by a wide margin. (Bernie has a twelve-point lead over him.) And second place doesn’t get you much more than a consolation trophy, though it would likely generate enough heat for him to end up qualifying for the South Carolina debate. And in the Nevada debate, the other candidates will undoubtedly be going after Mike’s record on racist and sexist comments for half of the evening. After the dust settles from that show we’ll find out of the Bloomberg boomlet has any legs to it. I’ll personally be shocked if it does.