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State of the Race

De best

Feb. 23, 2020

Sanders has the support of nearly 3 in 10 Democratic voters nationwide — a strong faction, though not an overwhelming plurality. It has become a more convincing advantage, however, in a race in which no other candidate has emerged as a focal point for opposition to Sanders. Between the rise of Michael Bloomberg and the recent plunge of Joe Biden, there are now four candidates polling in the low- to mid-teens, and no one besides Sanders with support above 20%.
So far, there is little evidence of a national surge for either Pete Buttigieg, who essentially tied with Sanders in Iowa and nearly matched him in New Hampshire, or Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who became a surprise third-place finisher in New Hampshire. Both have ticked up slightly, but they are still running behind all the other major candidates.
That picture may or may not hold for long: The New York Times’ national polling average does not reflect any effect from the most recent debate in Nevada, where Bloomberg struggled badly and Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered what was seen as her strongest performance of the campaign. And the Nevada caucuses have the potential to boost Sanders further.
Sanders’ rivals may be running out of time to catch up.
Still, there are reasons to believe the race may not be over anytime soon. Scattered polling in the Super Tuesday states has found Biden fairly resilient in places with large African-American populations, leaving him a plausible path to a comeback. Klobuchar and Warren have both reported a huge influx of money after their recent debate victories, suggesting there is still a sizable well of online fundraising available to candidates besides Sanders. And of course, money is no object for Bloomberg, a billionaire who is financing his own campaign.
But Bloomberg’s campaign is also facing an awkward reality: His candidacy was supposed to be a bulwark against Sanders, but so far its main effect has been to fragment the moderate wing of the party. To overtake Sanders, he will need to close hard in the Super Tuesday states, and that almost certainly means performing far better in next week’s South Carolina debate.
Bloomberg is not competing in Nevada, but he has gotten considerable attention as he has continued to spend copious amounts of money and rise in national polls. His gains put a huge target on his back this week in Nevada, where candidate after candidate took aim at him
New campaign finance reports show that as of the end of January, Bloomberg had spent $409 million on his presidential campaign.
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Bloomberg, seeking to catch up to candidates who have been releasing plans for months, announced five this week, including one to restore Obama-era financial regulations and rein in the same industry where he made his tens of billions.
His Wall Street plan would impose a 0.1% tax on stock sales and other financial transactions — a proposal also supported by Warren, Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the left, in a very rare alignment for Bloomberg. (Buttigieg also supports such a tax.)
It would also reverse much of the Trump administration’s deregulation and establish a team within the Justice Department to push prosecutors “to pursue individuals, not only corporations, for infractions.”
In other policy news from the trail:
— Buttigieg released a plan to protect public lands, proposing to ban new fossil fuel leases, increase funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and set a target of “protecting and restoring at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and oceans by 2030.”
— Warren announced an agenda for small businesses. Among many other things, it would create a $7 billion equity fund for people of color to start businesses, support small businesses and entrepreneurs with federal contracts, and establish a grant program to encourage states and cities “to cut unnecessary regulatory requirements and to help small business owners navigate necessary ones.”
— In addition to his Wall Street proposal, Bloomberg released a criminal justice reform plan. That’s a big one for his campaign given how much of a liability his record on stop-andfrisk and other policing issues are. The plan — parts of which he announced in December — calls for a higher standard for using force, an end to cash bail and mandatory minimums, and $100 million a year in funding for the Obama-era My Brother’s Keeper program.
— Bloomberg also released plans on labor rights, retirement and higher education. In them, he endorsed a number of proposals that he opposed as mayor but that have now become standard among Democrats, such as raising the minimum wage to $15.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times .
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