Bloomberg may have entered the race to stop Sanders, but his campaign mostly threatens other moderate candidates
- The 2020 Democratic primary is rapidly turning into a showdown between Sen. Bernie Sanders and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
- Bloomberg entered the race much later than other candidates, and there's a widespread belief he did so to prevent Sanders, who is currently the frontrunner, from winning the 2020 Democratic nomination.
- But a new Insider poll shows that Bloomberg poses more of a threat to other moderate candidates than the self-declared democratic socialist.
- The Vermont senator's supporters were less likely to say they like the billionaire ex-mayor than the backers of any other 2020 Democratic candidate, the poll found.
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There's a widespread perception that Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire and former Republican mayor of New York City, was largely inspired to enter the 2020 race in order to stop Sen. Bernie Sanders from winning the Democratic presidential nomination.
Sanders is a democratic socialist who has said that billionaires should not exist. He's Bloomberg's natural nemesis, which helps explain why the two aren't holding back in their attacks on one another along the campaign trail. With Sanders at the top of recent national polls and Bloomberg climbing into second place in some and third in others, it's increasingly looking like the battle between the two of them could define the 2020 Democratic primary season.
But while Bloomberg's plan might be to block Sanders from winning the nomination before going on to take on President Donald Trump, Insider polling actually shows the former NYC mayor's campaign poses a bigger threat to other moderate candidates like Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
For the past several months, Insider has been conducting a recurring SurveyMonkey Audience poll to track the state of the 2020 Democratic primary field. You can download every poll here, down to the individual respondent data. (Read more about how the Insider Democratic primary tracker works here).
We can look at the aggregation of the most recent eight polls to see from whom Bloomberg may draw support.
Only about 22% of Sanders supporters also said they like Bloomberg, according to a new Insider poll. Comparatively, roughly 44% of Buttigieg supporters said they like Bloomberg, along with 49% of Klobuchar supporters. And about 37% of Biden supporters said the same.
Sanders supporters were less likely to say they like Bloomberg than the backers of any other 2020 Democratic candidate, also including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, and billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer.
Here's the percentage of supporters of 2020 Democrats who also said they like Bloomberg (from least to most):
- Sen. Bernie Sanders: 22.7%
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 27.6%
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: 34.6%
- Former VP Joe Biden: 37.4%
- Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg: 43.8%
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 49.1%
- Tom Steyer: 62.9%
This polling suggests that as Bloomberg seeks to push himself to the top of the 2020 field - spending a record $338.7 million on television, radio, and digital-media advertising in the process - he's far more likely to swallow up the voters of moderate candidates than those of the Vermont senator.
So far, Sanders' progressive platform, and not the moderate, more centrist messaging of candidates like Klobuchar and Buttigieg, has been winning over Democratic voters.
Though there's an ongoing dispute over the results given issues with the final numbers, Sanders finished in Iowa in a virtual tie with Buttigieg before going on to win the New Hampshire primary, making him the frontrunner after months of Biden leading the pack.
The Vermont senator also dominating the field in terms of fundraising and doing so without relying on wealthy donors, which is indicative of high levels of support. In the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, Bloomberg is in second overall with 19% among Democratic voters, but Sanders in first with a double-digit lead and 31% support nationally.
In short, Bloomberg has his work cut out for him in terms of derailing Sanders' path to the nomination. But Bloomberg has been able to rapidly make a dent in the race thus far, even while taking the unusual step of skipping the first four electoral contests in the primary season, which could help explain why Sanders is paying so much attention to him of late.
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weigh its sample based on race or income.