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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders leads the field of 2020 democratic presidential candidates with 31% according to a new NPR/PBS/Marist poll, a nine point gain since December.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg comes in second in the poll with 19% support, up 15 points from December. Bloomberg’s placement in the poll means that he has now met the qualifications necessary to appear on the debate stage in Nevada on February 19.
A poll from the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California shows Sanders with a double-digit lead among democratic candidates in the delegate rich state with the support of 32% of those polled.
Former Vice President Joe Biden comes second with 14% followed by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren at 13%. Bloomberg and former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg are tied for fourth place in the state with 12% each.
In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll, Sanders has a 12-point lead with the support of 27% of those polled with Biden coming in at 15% followed closely by Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren with 14%.
Bloomberg qualifies for first debate but will not compete in Nevada
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg will make his first appearance on the debate stage in Las Vegas on February 19 alongside his 2020 rivals.
The former New York City mayor is skipping the first four contests, including Nevada and South Carolina, having built his campaign strategy on succeeding in the Super Tuesday states on March 3. More delegates are up for grabs on Super Tuesday than on any other single day on the primary calendar.
According to Bloomberg’s campaign manager Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg is “looking forward to joining the other Democratic candidates on stage and making the case for why he’s the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump and unite the country. The opportunity to discuss his workable and achievable plans for the challenges facing this country is an important part of the campaign process.”
Criticism from Democratic rivals
On February 18, Elizabeth Warren called Bloomberg an “egomaniac billionaire” whose vast spending on TV, radio and digital ads indicated that the candidate wanted to “buy his way into the debate.”
“It’s a shame Mike Bloomberg can buy his way into the debate but at least now primary voters curious about how each candidate will take on Donald Trump can get a live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire,” Warren tweeted.
Warren wasn’t alone in attacking Bloomberg.
Speaking in Reno, Nevada, Bernie Sanders alluded to Bloomberg by saying, “Anybody here with $60 billion, you can run for president, and you can buy the airwaves,” Sanders added, “That is called oligarchy, not democracy.
Ad spending controversy
Bloomberg has spent more than US$400 million on ads to promote his presidential campaign, an amount that far exceeds his rivals. Bloomberg is also said to be spending more than US$100 million on the Super Tuesday states, including US$59 million on ads in California and Texas alone.