Democratic Primary News

Castro backs Warren. Biden still leads the polls. What is Bloomberg up to?

Michael Bloomberg
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg makes a speech in Stockton, California, December 11, 2019 (Mike Bloomberg 2020)
  • Julián Castro has thrown his support behind Elizabeth Warren. This has helped Warren move up in the endorsement primary, which tracks support from prominent party actors. She is now in second place, behind Joe Biden but ahead of Bernie Sanders.
  • Although Sanders has raised the most money in total, Biden is ahead in donations from Americans who also give to the Democratic Party. This is perhaps unsurprising given that Sanders, who isn’t formally a Democrat, is running as much against the Democratic establishment as he is against the Republicans. Warren and Pete Buttigieg share second place in big-dollar donations from politically engaged Democrats, but neither is far behind Biden, suggesting there isn’t a consensus among donors yet.
  • Biden continues to lead the polls with 25-30 percent support nationwide. Biden shares first place in the Iowa polls with Buttigieg and Sanders. Each has around 20 percent support. Warren is at 15. It’s a similar picture in New Hampshire, where Sanders — from neighboring Vermont — is slightly more popular. Nevada and South Carolina haven’t been polled since November, but at the time Biden was ahead in both states.
  • California shows a three-way race between Biden, Sanders and Warren. Texas has Biden in the lead. Both states will vote on March 3, Super Tuesday, and together send 644 out of 3,979 pledged delegates (16 percent) to the convention in July.
  • Michael Bloomberg has moved into fifth place with 5-6 percent support nationally. He has also hired some 500 additional staffers across thirty states, bringing his total campaign staff to 800 — more than any other candidate.

Bullish on Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s candidacy doesn’t generate many headlines, and for fair reasons:

  • His strategy of skipping the first four primary states and aiming for a large delegate haul on Super Tuesday has never worked.
  • Bloomberg’s decision to fund his own campaign means he’s unable to qualify for the presidential primary debates under Democratic National Committee rules, which require candidates to meet fundraising in addition to polling minimums.
  • Bloomberg’s centrism is out of tune with the leftward shift in the Democratic Party.

On the other hand:

  • If the first four primary states fail to produce a frontrunner, Super Tuesday could be hugely important. A third of the delegates to the nominating convention will be elected that day.
  • Bloomberg has virtually unlimited resources. In one month, he has already outspent his rivals in digital advertising.
  • Bloomberg’s centrism may not appeal to Democratic activists, but it could appeal to swing voters.

Bottom line: there must be a reason Bloomberg, a hugely successful businessman and three-time mayor of New York, is sinking a fortune into this.

Soleimani strike

All the candidates have expressed unease about President Donald Trump’s decision to kill Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Iraq, but some have gone further than others.

  • Biden has accused Trump of abandoning America’s allies by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear pact, responding “erratically and impulsively” to Iranian provocations and leaving the United States with a “severely limited slate of options for how to move forward.”
  • Sanders is reminding voters he — unlike Biden — voted against the Iraq War in 2003 and he has compared the killing of Soleimani to the murder of dissidents in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
  • Warren suspects Trump only ordered the attack in order to distract Americans from his impeachment.

What’s next?

  • The next primary debate is on January 14. Based on current polling, New Jersey senator Cory Booker and businessmen Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang would not qualify.
  • The Iowa caucuses are on February 3.

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