Can Bloomberg Buy His Way To Victory?

A new poll out this week shows former New York Mayor and gun control sugar daddy Michael Bloomberg surging past Elizabeth Warren and vaulting into third place in the field of candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The survey, released Thursday, showed Bloomberg’s support ticking up 4 percentage points to 11 percent from from a Jan. 13-14 poll. Warren dropped 2 points, to 9 percent.

Other candidates registering in the single digits included former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, at 5 percent, and businessman Andrew Yang and billionaire Tom Steyer, who each received 4 percent. The rest of the White House hopefuls polled at 2 percent or less.

Warren has struggled to rebound nationally after peaking at 19 percent support in October.

But Warren isn’t the only top-tier candidate to slide in the polls ahead of Monday’s Iowa caucuses. Progressive rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) dropped 2 points, to 17 percent.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, maintained a double-digit lead over the field, with 29 percent support.

The Hill-HarrisX crosstabs show that Bloomberg’s advantage is among Democrats who are at least 50 years old, and it’s voters over the age of 65 who really seem to be warming to the billionaire.

Biden is still the most popular candidate among the oldest Democrats by an almost 2-1 advantage, which widens to a nearly 4-1 advantage among those 50-64.

Bernie Sanders remains the clear candidate of choice for the youngest cohort of Democrat voters, but the 77-year old billionaire is holding his own with Zoomer favorite Andrew Yang.

Bloomberg’s lowest level of support is found among those Democrats in the prime of their working life, who are split into two camps. The establishment candidate Biden is the clear favorite, but only because the socialist wing is acrimoniously split between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Now, this is only one poll, and several others released this week show Bloomberg still stuck between 4% and 9%.  Moreover, Biden still has a commanding lead nationally in virtually every poll, which is bad news for Bloomberg. Just as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are battling it out to be the progressive candidate of choice, Bloomberg’s strategy depends on siphoning votes away from Mr. Establishment, Joe Biden.

Thanks to his late entry into the presidential race, Bloomberg’s strategy also calls for him to sit out the early voting states and concentrate on the delegate-rich Super Tuesday contests in early March. Bloomberg’s expectation was that Biden would have fizzled out by now, but he appears to be hanging tough in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, though Sanders is uniformly ahead in New Hampshire polling.

In the little polling of some of the Super Tuesday states that we have, Bloomberg has yet to catch fire. In California, for example, the latest poll has Bloomberg at an anemic 4%, with Sanders running away from the pack and Joe Biden in a distant 2nd place. Texas, which also holds its primary on Super Tuesday appears to be in the Biden camp, with Biden getting 28% in the latest poll compared to Bloomberg’s 9%. In that latest poll Sanders is running only a couple of points behind Biden, though in the Real Clear Politics average of Texas polls, Biden still holds a commanding 12-point advantage.

Bloomberg doesn’t hold a commanding lead, or a lead at all, in any of the Super Tuesday states at the moment, though the polling is scant, and he’s spending a ton of money in every state holding its primary on March 3rd. As Lachlan Markay of the Daily Beast pointed out on Twitter on Friday, the cash that Bloomberg is pouring into his presidential bid is hard to fathom.

Can all that cash buy Bloomberg the nomination? I don’t think so, and if he does end up as the nominee the Democrats are going to have a difficult time unifying behind him. The far-left wing of the party views Bloomberg as nearly as big an enemy as Donald Trump, and I have a very hard time picturing Bernie Sanders supporters heading to the polls with smiles on their faces to vote for a billionaire who denied their guy the nomination for the second election cycle in a row. In fact, I’d argue that the potential Never Bloomberg camp on the Left is far larger than the Never Trump brigade on the Right.

If Biden stumbles in the early states then maybe some of his Super Tuesday supporters take a second look at Bloomberg, but it hasn’t happened yet. The next couple of weeks will be critical ones for the Bloomberg campaign, and in states where he’s largely sitting on the sidelines.

Having said all that, the DNC is changing the rules for their upcoming debates so that Bloomberg can participate. Go read John Sexton over at HotAir for some interesting reaction on the Left to the news and why some see it as an attempt to prop up Bloomberg over concern that Sanders will soon overtake Biden as the Democrats’ frontrunner.