Fresh off the results from the New Hampshire primary last Tuesday, the five familiar candidates now turn their attention to the Nevada debate this evening. However, they will be joined by a sixth candidate, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
This will be the first time Bloomberg appears alongside the rest of the field, garnering the majority of his support in the unconventional manner of political advertisements. Bloomberg made the cut with only a few hours to spare. According to the poll, conducted by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist, he has found himself in the runner-up position behind Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.
As the candidates have passed the half-way point, the primaries have been anything but ordinary. Former front runners like the former vice president Joe Biden and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren have seen their campaigns plummet and become stagnant. Other candidates, such as Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sanders have found themselves floating to the top.
“Amy Klobuchar had a stellar performance for her campaign in New Hampshire,” said Nedra Pickler, a former White House reporter for the Associated Press. “This has brought about a lot of opposition research from other candidate’s campaigns and she has been having to field much more difficult questions.”
After enjoying recent success, Buttigieg has come under fire from other candidates about his lack of experience in politics national politics. However, Buttigieg managed to have a narrow win in Iowa, edging out Sanders by 0.01%, and take second in New Hampshire.
“Pete Buttigieg’s youth and relative inexperience in politics could end up being an asset for him,” Pickler said. “The longer a politician’s career, the easier it is for rivals to pull from their past and use it against them. Buttigieg’s lack of experience could be seen as a clean slate and something fresh for voters who have really prioritized governmental change.”
Entering the race as the front runner, Biden has suffered hard hits to his campaign viability in both Iowa and New Hampshire. He suffered a mere fourth place finish in Iowa, garnering 15.8% of the votes, and finished at the bottom of the field in New Hampshire, garnering only 8.4% of votes. Biden and his campaign have been looking to turn the tides in South Carolina, the final destination for candidates.
“South Carolina is going to be a make or break moment for his campaign,” Pickler said. “If he loses there, he really loses all of the rationale that his campaign has been built upon. Biden and his campaign managers have been saying that South Carolina will be his breakthrough moment, and this moment could not come soon enough.”
It is hard to pinpoint the exact downfall of his campaign Pickler said. As a life-long politician, Biden has been involved in American policy since 1973, getting reelected six times as a senator from Delaware. However, he has also led two failed presidential campaigns before this one Pickler said.
“If he continues this way, he is looking at his third,” she said.
The Biden campaign is also facing financial troubles and is being confronted by the advertising titan that is the Bloomberg campaign.
“Bloomberg’s political campaign is really unprecedented,” Pickler said. “Everything from how much money he has and how much he has spent allows him to outspend any other candidate with his own money.”
Although the candidate has been gathering support at a great speed, it has not been smooth sailing for the former New York mayor. Videos of Bloomberg endorsing New York’s “stop and frisk” policy have resurfaced, along with a video where he blamed the end of redlining for the 2008 housing market crash. Redlining is a policy where banks would discriminate against people of color when applying for housing loans. Bloomberg came forward to apologize for these comments, but they are surefire questions for his debate debut.
“I think everyone is worthy of a second chance,” said Tyreniqua Wiggins, a sophomore psychology student at the University of Memphis “That being said, he has to know that he is in the wrong completely and that he will not do it again.”
Bloomberg’s decision to join the democratic party as a former member of the GOP also may come into question. However, Pickler said this may not be important to voters.
“Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are arguably the front runners right now,” Pickler said. “This is interesting because, initially, they both were not democrats. Sanders was an independent and Bloomberg was a republican. This really brings the issue of how important long term party loyalty is to the front. This might be indicative of political parties losing power as voters begin to show different priorities than simply party loyalty.”
Although attracting a lot of excitement to her campaign early on, Warren has taken a tumble in the early primaries as well, taking third in Iowa and fourth in New Hampshire. The poor performance in New Hampshire came as a devastating blow to her and her campaign due to her notoriety in the area.
The youth of America could be a deciding factor in this year’s election. Wiggins is among that young demographic who would like to see change from these candidates.
“I think we need to get a candidate who really cares about the people,” she said. “Someone who cares about climate change, student loan debt, health insurance and prison system reform.”
These early polls, debates and primaries are incredibly important to voters. Nick Weber is a freshman education major at the UofM who is watching these early results closely. Originally from Laurel, Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C., he is looking forward to being able to vote in his first election.
“These early polls and primaries are pretty important to me,” he said. “It is my first year as an eligible voter, so it means a lot since I have witnessed my parents going to the polls over the years. [Being able to vote] makes me feel more empowered than ever.”
The ninth Democratic debate is set to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada at 10 p.m., sponsored by NBC News, MSNBC and local paper The Nevada Independent.