The Democratic presidential field is finally getting a crack at Michael Bloomberg: The former New York City mayor has qualified for the next Democratic primary debate in Nevada on Wednesday, by rocketing into second place in a new NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist national poll.
The poll shows Sen. Bernie Sanders, the frontrunner and favorite in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, with 31 percent support, up nine points from the last NPR/PBS/Marist poll taken in December. Bloomberg, who entered the race in November and has launched a tsunami of advertising in Super Tuesday states, saw the biggest spike in support with a double-digit bump since the last poll (4 percent) to 19 percent.
Campaign manager Kevin Sheekey confirmed Bloomberg would participate in the debate in a Tuesday morning tweet:
Former vice president Joe Biden has seen his support take a nosedive following Bloomberg’s entry into the race and two poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, and sits in third at 15 percent. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the only other candidate who polled in double-digits, with 12 percent.
In January, the Democratic National Committee announced that its threshold for making the debate would be earning a delegate in either Iowa or New Hampshire, or polling with 10 percent in at least two qualifying national polls or two qualifying polls of Nevada and South Carolina.
The change angered many Democrats, as the DNC dropped a longstanding threshold — meeting both a minimum amount of small donors or hitting polling requirements, rather than one or the other — which had boxed out struggling candidates such as Cory Booker and Julián Castro. Bloomberg, one of the richest people in the world with a net worth reportedly north of $60 billion, has so far spent only his own money on his presidential campaign, and a ton of it: Over $417 million in advertising and counting.
Some, including Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, charged that Bloomberg had “bought the DNC,” after Bloomberg gave several hundred thousand dollars to both the DNC and state parties around the country prior to entering the race.