Michael Bloomberg has qualified to appear in his first Democratic presidential debate — Wednesday night’s, in Las Vegas.
The multi-billionaire former New York City mayor needed to rank high enough in one more poll to make the cut, and he did it in impressive fashion in an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey released early Tuesday.
Mike Bloomberg at a campaign rally on January 29, 2020 in El Paso, Texas. Cengiz Yar / Getty Images
Bloomberg, who’s been flooding TV airwaves with hundreds of millions of dollars in ads, has yet to appear in any debates even as he’s risen steadily in polls. And his Democratic rivals have said they’re anxious to challenge him face-to-face about controversial aspects of his record.
Bloomberg was second in the new poll, at 19%, behind only Bernie Sanders, who was the choice of a hefty 31% of those surveyed, up 9% from December, the last time those organizations conducted their poll.
Joe Biden was third at 15%, down 9 points since December. Then came Elizabeth Warren at 12%, a dip of 5 points since December, and Amy Klobuchar at 9%, up 4% from December. She passed Pete Buttigieg, who grabbed just 8%, down 13% from his December showing.
Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey released a statement saying in part, “There’s a desire in every corner of this country for a proven leader, for someone who will stand up to bullies and special interests and get things done. That person is Mike Bloomberg, and we look forward to more Americans seeing that on Wednesday night.”
To appear on the debate stage at the Paris Theater, candidates have to meet either a delegate or polling threshold, according to the Democratic National Committee.
For the delegate requirement, candidates must have won at least one delegate from either the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary. For the polling threshold, Democratic contenders must clear 10% in at least four national polls approved by the Democratic National Committee or receive 12% in two single-state polls in Nevada or South Carolina.
The qualifications set by the Democratic National Committee for Wednesday’s debate are a departure from previous debate requirements, which demanded that Democrats meet a donor threshold.
The change paved the way for Bloomberg, who’s self-funding his campaign, to land a spot. He’d received at least 10% in three national polls before the latest one — surveys by Fox News, Quinnipiac and Monmouth.
Bloomberg isn’t on the ballot for Saturday’s Nevada caucuses or the upcoming South Carolina primary, the next two early-voting states.
A Bloomberg spokesperson has said that if he qualified, he’d debate.
So far, five of the Democrats still in the race for the nomination appear to have qualified for Wednesday’s debate: Biden, Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg.
Wednesday night’s debate will air on NBC and MSNBC.