Michael Bloomberg Poll Numbers . . . Interesting

The newest entrant is outperforming most rivals but is intensely disliked.

The first national poll on the 2020 Democratic nomination race since former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg entered the fray can be spun either way.

POLITICO focuses on the bad news with David Siders’ story, headlined “Poll: Bloomberg’s potential run is a flop with voters so far.”

Michael Bloomberg is running at 4 percent nationally as he teases a presidential bid, showing that he’s well known — but widely disliked — by the Democratic electorate, according to a new poll.

No contender is viewed more negatively by Democrats than the billionaire former New York City mayor.

The Morning Consult poll, released Sunday, reflects the enormous challenge confronting Bloomberg as he considers a late entry into the 2020 race. He sits in sixth place, just behind Sen. Kamala Harris of California, and would begin his campaign far outside the top tier.

Nearly 25 percent of likely primary voters view him unfavorably — the highest unfavorable rating in the field — while about 31 percent view him favorably, according to the poll.

In contrast, nearly three-quarters of Democratic primary voters view Joe Biden favorably, compared to about 18 percent who hold an unfavorable opinion of him.

Axios‘ David Knutson takes the same poll and sees the glass half full: “Poll: 4% of Democratic primary voters would support Bloomberg.”

Why it matters: The poll places the former mayor of New York City above 10 candidates currently in the race, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Bloomberg has not officially confirmed his candidacy, but he has filed paperwork to enter the 2020 presidential primary in Alabama, which had a deadline to file for its ballot last Friday.

Details: The poll found that Bloomberg fares as well as Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden when matched up against Trump in a hypothetical election. 43% of voters nationwide said they would vote for Bloomberg, while 37% said they would vote for Trump.

The big picture: “If he were to run, Bloomberg would enter the 2020 Democratic contest with higher name recognition among the party’s electorate than 11 current contenders, including fellow billionaire Tom Steyer of California,” per Morning Consult.

Knutson’s take is more persuasive. That someone who has been out of the spotlight for quite some time and is merely testing the waters is ahead of a dozen candidates who have had the advantage of multiple nationally-televised debates says something.

Likely, though, what it says is that those people should get the hell off the debate stage and leave it to those with a plausible shot at the nomination. There’s almost zero chance the Democratic nominating electorate is going to elect a 77-year-old plutocrat in this climate.

Still, if this poll is more than a one-off, it might be enough to convince Bloomberg to take his shot. Getting on the stage with the others might be enough to make him the main Biden alternative to run against the winner of the Warren-Sanders contest to represent the progressive wing. But, with Biden continuing to lead the race, it’s not clear why an alternative is needed.

UPDATE: Doug Mataconis was apparently crafting a post on these stories at the same time. Given that our takes are quite different, I’ll just leave both up rather than attempt to combine them.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Polling 4% without lifting a finger is interesting but the bigger issue seems to be Bloomberg”s unfavorable numbers which are the highest of anyone in the field. Also, his apparent strategy of skipping the early primaries while concentrating on Super Tuesday reminds me of Rudy Giuliani’s idea in 2008 to put all his money into Florida. And we know how that turned out.

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  2. KM says:

    Name recognition is a hell of a drug. How else can you be at 4% with those same folks openly disdaining you? He’s an old, white, rich out-of-touch OK Boomer who’s appeal is that he’s an old, white, rich out-of-touch OK Boomer aka the “normal” choice should Biden flame out.

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  3. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    his apparent strategy of skipping the early primaries while concentrating on Super Tuesday reminds me of Rudy Giuliani’s idea in 2008 to put all his money into Florida.

    Yes, I had that thought as well. It only works if Biden is toast at that point and Buttigieg fails to emerge as the Moderate Alternative.

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  4. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And we know how that turned out.

    I don’t think McCain had any complaints on that score.

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  5. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The right wing echo chamber made such a huge deal about Obama “coming for your guns” which had not one iota of truth. Imagine what they will do with Bloomberg…who is really coming for your guns!!!
    Plus the soda tax.
    He’d get eaten alive. Bloomberg ain’t happening.

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  6. DrDaveT says:

    The poll found that Bloomberg fares as well as Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden when matched up against Trump in a hypothetical election.

    I would expect Ted Danson or George Stephanopoulos to poll approximately identically against Trump, too. This is about Trump, not about the Dem against him. I can assure you that Bloomberg’s “unfavorable numbers” would evaporate if it came down to him or Trump.

    (None of the above should be interpreted as an endorsement of Bloomberg or his candidacy in any way, though it would be nice if it causes a few moments of self-realization among the also-rans.)

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  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Pete King announced his retirement…another rat jumping from the sinking ship.

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  8. @Doug Mataconis:

    Polling 4% without lifting a finger is interesting

    Polling 4% without lifting a finger is what happens when you have huge name recognition–especially early in the process when an actual decision is still months away.

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  9. @James Joyner:

    The biggest question for Buttigieg will be whether or not a good performance in Iowa would fix his problems in states like South Carolina

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  10. CSK says:

    @KM: Small correction: Bloomberg is too old to be a Boomer. He was born in 1942. The earliest Boomers were born in 1946.

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  11. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Polling 4% without lifting a finger is what happens when you have huge name recognition–especially early in the process when an actual decision is still months away

    I think that’s right. Still, all the other candidates ought to have huge name recognition at this point. They’ve all been on national television for months now. That most of them are still under 4% is an indication that they’re toast.

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The biggest question for Buttigieg will be whether or not a good performance in Iowa would fix his problems in states like South Carolina

    I think his “problems in states like South Carolina” is that he’s not appealing very much to African American voters. I don’t think winning lily-white Iowa fixes that.

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  12. Kit says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I can assure you that Bloomberg’s “unfavorable numbers” would evaporate if it came down to him or Trump.

    I’m not so sure. It seems reasonable to expect the vote to hinge on turnout, and if a Bloomberg candidacy keeps any number of Democrats at home, that could once again make the difference. Favorability seems like an essential factor for anyone hoping to replace Biden.

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  13. @James Joyner:

    Still, all the other candidates ought to have huge name recognition at this point.

    You are thinking like a news junkie here and not a common citizen, even potential primary voters.

    Bloomberg has a news service named after him and he has been a national figure for some time now. The only candidates in the field who have as good or better name recognition are Biden, Sanders, and Warren.

    Heck, I am sure that I couldn’t even name all the single digit candidates currently still running and I am paying attention.

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  14. @James Joyner:

    That most of them are still under 4% is an indication that they’re toast.

    Absolutely. But that was true before Bloomberg entered. I don’t think that tells us all that much about him as a candidate.

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  15. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Also, his apparent strategy of skipping the early primaries while concentrating on Super Tuesday reminds me of Rudy Giuliani’s idea in 2008 to put all his money into Florida. And we know how that turned out.

    Reality check : Rudy only concentrated on Florida after he spent months trying to make Iowa and New Hampshire work.

    Rudy’s 28 visits to New Hampshire are in line with Huckabee’s 20, McCain’s 24 and only exceeded by Romney’s 37. See http://p2008.org/nh08/nhvisits08r.html

    He played less in Iowa but his 17 visits isn’t far off McCain’s 22 and almost twice Paul’s 9. http://p2008.org/ia08/iavisits08r.html

    Yes, he put a lot of resources and time into Florida (95 total events) but that is pretty comparable with New Hampshire (87 events) (source)

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  16. KM says:

    @CSK:
    I probably should have put it in quotes; “OK Boomer” was referencing the meme, not the actual demographic he’s a part of. The meme centers on Boomers but really it refers to any “Old” that displays out-of-touch, tone-deaf, seriously outdated or historically inaccurate/nostalgia glasses when offering their unsolicited “wisdom”.

    In other words, Bloomberg in a nutshell. It’s not to say an older person offering an opinion automatically rates an “OK Boomer” but Bloomberg’s had some doozies over the years. Not Biden level of foot-in-mouth but yeah, it’s a concern for a candidate… or at least, it should be. That it is a part of his appeal for a segment of the population is obvious – I’d love to see a demographic breakdown of that poll to see just how many of the 4% were 40 and above.

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  17. @James Joyner:

    I think his “problems in states like South Carolina” is that he’s not appealing very much to African American voters.

    I wrote about that last week. Some analysts have suggested that Buttigieg might get a boost if he does better than expected in Iowa and New Hampshire and Biden seems to be faltering.

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  18. Gustopher says:

    @KM:

    I probably should have put it in quotes; “OK Boomer” was referencing the meme, not the actual demographic he’s a part of. The meme centers on Boomers but really it refers to any “Old” that displays out-of-touch, tone-deaf, seriously outdated or historically inaccurate/nostalgia glasses when offering their unsolicited “wisdom”.

    I eagerly await it being used against Buttigieg.

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  19. Gustopher says:

    But, with Biden continuing to lead the race, it’s not clear why an alternative is needed.

    Because a lot of people have concerns with Biden’s Bidenisms, age, public record*, and declining stamina.

    Now, why Bloomberg is a good alternative… he doesn’t have Bidenisms, but he has lots of his own missteps and troglodyte statements. I don’t think he is enough of an alternative.

    (I like Bloomberg. If he catches on, I can comfortably support him in the general election. But, that’s how I feel about a lot of our candidates — Biden, Buttigieg, Klobachar, Harris….)

    ——
    *: A 40 year public record that is 90% right has effectively 4 years of badness to broadcast.

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  20. DrDaveT says:

    @Kit:

    I’m not so sure. It seems reasonable to expect the vote to hinge on turnout, and if a Bloomberg candidacy keeps any number of Democrats at home

    Perhaps I’m wrong, but I cannot conceive of anyone who might possibly vote Dem in 2020 who is not already sufficiently motivated by the prospect of 4 more years of Trumpster Fire(tm). People keep talking about hypothetical voters who would get out and vote because they’re excited by the policies of Warren or Sanders, or the affable avuncularity of Biden, but would stay home were some other candidate nominated. I can’t imagine such people. It’s like saying there are people who would just let their house burn down if they had to use dirty river water to put it out.

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  21. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    Still, all the other candidates ought to have huge name recognition at this point.

    You are such a wonk. 🙂

    Let me echo Dr. Taylor here — no. Not even close. The vast majority of Americans could not tell you who Amy Klobuchar or Kamala Harris or Andrew Yang is, though they would probably admit to maybe having heard the name at some point.

    I firmly believe that if Tom Hanks were to declare his candidacy tomorrow, he would poll at 15% immediately. That might be his ceiling (or it might not), but that’s how important celebrity is.

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  22. Jax says:

    @DrDaveT: Or George Clooney, Keifer Sutherland (Designated Survivor), or hell, even Tea Leoni from Madame Secretary might poll that high. And they’d probably all still make a better President than Trump!

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  23. @DrDaveT:

    I can’t imagine such people

    They do exist, however.

    I can’t imagine, at least from my own experience, that there are undecided voters deep into a campaign, if not the week of a given election, yet they exist.

    Motivating turnout is a real thing–if it wasn’t, turnout would be constant and it isn’t.

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  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Good point! Technically, he’s one of the Silents (who won’t STFU, either).

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  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Somebody in a thread about Bloomberg earlier in the week (may have even been you, but I doubt it) listed some of his “policy” points from his time as NYC mayor. The point seemed to be that if Dems are willing to elect Bloomberg, it would be possible that they’d be just as happy (or even happier) electing Mitt. I don’t think he can prevail, but he’s probably not the solution to Trump except that he’s not crass and vulgar.

    He may be the Democratic candidate that David Brooks and Megan McArdle have been looking for, though.

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  26. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Romney veered far to the right after entering national politics. I suspect that Democrats would be vaguely comfortable with Gov. Romney plucked out of time running now, had he switched parties to the Democrats after arriving in 2019, and become pro-choice, and favored marriage equality and anti discrimination laws.

    But, that’s not at all the Mittens Romney we all know, love and name our cats after.

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  27. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I can’t imagine, at least from my own experience, that there are undecided voters deep into a campaign, if not the week of a given election, yet they exist.

    Oh, I find that much easier to understand. They weren’t ‘undecided’ in the sense of having thought about it but not yet reached a conclusion; they were not yet engaged. They couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to the endless pointless blather from all sides until it was actually time to go vote. I actually sympathize with that perspective.

    I’m still looking for that hypothetical person who would be motivated to get out and vote for [insert Democrat name here], but stay home if the Dems nominate [insert other name here]. In an ordinary election, sure — it happened to Hillary in spades. In an election where the Prince of Lies is running for re-election? I still can’t see it. The people who don’t see what’s wrong with Trump aren’t going to vote for a Dem. The people who do see what’s wrong with Trump will vote for any Dem. (The Mataconises of the world are what mathematicians call “a set of measure zero” — not empty, but irrelevant to the probabilities.)

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  28. Matt says:

    @DrDaveT: I have no interest in voting for Bloomberg and I’ll just stay home if he’s the nominee. He’s too old and out of touch. Railing about marijuana being a gateway drug and all that old white guy crap… I have similar problems with Biden but at least Biden is fairly up to date on things. Bloomberg seems to think it’s still the 1980s…

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  29. @DrDaveT: If the issue was solely D v. Trump and “D” didn’t matter at all, all candidates would poll identically. They don’t.

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  30. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If the issue was solely D v. Trump and “D” didn’t matter at all, all candidates would poll identically.

    Sorry, no. This is silly. Psychology matters, and people cling to their preferences until they are faced with a forced choice. Polls are evidence, but they aren’t fact.

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  31. DrDaveT says:

    @Matt:

    I have no interest in voting for Bloomberg and I’ll just stay home if he’s the nominee.

    You genuinely see no difference worth caring about between The Blum and The Donald? Color me skeptical.

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  32. @DrDaveT:

    This is silly. Psychology matters, and people cling to their preferences until they are faced with a forced choice. Polls are evidence, but they aren’t fact.

    So you think that Tulsi Gabbard, Bernie Sanders, and Mayor Pete all get the exact same result if nominated?

    Silly, indeed.

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  33. Matt says:

    @DrDaveT: Bloomberg’s positions on marijuana (medical and recreational), stop and frisk, soda containers, and a whole host of other things are worse than Trump’s. In one of the discussions on this site there is a link to a twitter post covering some remarks Bloomberg made in private recently and he sounded like an utter out of touch old dude channeling reefer madness while stomping on the constitutional rights of the public just because said public wasn’t lilly white… Those private remarks are in line with what he has said in the past in public like calling medical marijuana a hoax because well because he wants to believe it’s a hoax. That’s Trump level of reasoning there and I have no interest in trading one for another. Better the devil you know that is incompetent….

    I’m still a Mayor Pete supporter but I’m willing to do Warren as a second in line. I’m tired of old out of touch rich white men… Like someone else has said how do you expect a billionaire to fix the problems that caused him to be a billionaire. Obviously he’s going to think everything is working great. You know because the top 1% obviously deserve to have over 60% of all the wealth in this country….

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  34. Matt says:

    I was trying to say at the end how do you expect a billionaire who got there thanks to daddy’s connections to give a damned about fixing income inequality? Yeah Bloomberg worked hard but so do 100 something million people every day in this country and they get nowhere because they weren’t lucky enough to be born into a well off family with connections…

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  35. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    So you think that Tulsi Gabbard, Bernie Sanders, and Mayor Pete all get the exact same result if nominated?

    Pretty much, yeah. Not in a normal election, not even close. But against Trump? Yeah.

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  36. @DrDaveT: You are falling into the trap of assuming that huge numbers of people think exactly like you do.

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  37. Matt says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yeah I would say that’s pretty clear…

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