The Mike Bloomberg bubble has burst.
After a steady, weekslong climb in national polls, fueled by extravagant spending on ads, staff and events, Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has plateaued. The abrupt reversal of fortune, triggered by his disastrous debate performance in Las Vegas, has tarnished the former New York mayor’s sheen and injected uncertainty about whether he will rack up enough delegates on Super Tuesday to keep his campaign alive.
His national debate debut in Las Vegas last week laid bare his vulnerabilities around race and gender and gave many voters their first glimpse of his irritability. The performance short-circuited his rise in polling, and he has since made no headway against frontrunner Bernie Sanders in delegate-rich California, a state he was counting on. In addition, there are signs of a revival for Joe Biden in South Carolina this weekend — an outcome that would upset Bloomberg’s plan to seize on his demise as moderates search for a replacement to him.
Bloomberg, who spent months ignoring his Democratic opponents and focusing his firepower on Donald Trump, is still counting on a big delegate haul next week. But several sources close to and involved in the campaign have acknowledged concerns about his recent internal and public polling.
They said they were relieved by Bloomberg’s improved debate performance in South Carolina on Tuesday night, including his opening attack on Sanders and his handling of a repeat grilling from Elizabeth Warren on his private company’s treatment of women. (After Warren tore into him in the first debate, he agreed to allow women who have signed nondisclosure agreements related to him to speak freely.)