If the Democratic National Committee is trying to rig the presidential race against Bernie Sanders, it’s doing a lousy job.
By letting Michael Bloomberg into last night’s debate in Nevada, the DNC did the Vermont senator an enormous favor. Sanders is clearly the Democratic front-runner. He tied for first place in Iowa; he won New Hampshire; he’s ahead in national polls; he’s way ahead in Nevada, and he’s way ahead in California, the biggest Super Tuesday prize. As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump recently noted, Sanders is en route to finishing the Super Tuesday primaries—which occur in less than two weeks—with an “uncatchable” lead. FiveThirtyEight gives him a 56 percent chance of winning a plurality of pledged delegates. That’s more than three times as high as Michael Bloomberg’s.
Yet in the second-to-last debate before Super Tuesday, the other candidates didn’t gang up on Sanders. They ganged up on Bloomberg—and one another. Even Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar—who between them have a roughly 3 percent chance of winning the most pledged delegates—endured harsher attacks than Sanders did. Elizabeth Warren showcased her extraordinary rhetorical talent. But, for the most part, she did so not at Sanders’s expense, but at Bloomberg’s.