Mike Bloomberg qualified for tonight’s debate; I wouldn’t go if I were him. Bloomberg is not a particularly compelling stage presence. These are late innings against warmed-up players. His campaign spending spectacles have him up in the polls, and for a week the media has been starting to vet him, with the help of rival Democratic campaigns’ opposition-research teams. I think that the paid-for and earned media saturation, and the unconventional strategy that seems to be working in Florida, have given his campaign a sense of power and even mystery. That aura could be dispelled tonight, when he finally descends into the normal to-ing and fro-ing of campaigning. Elizabeth Warren is already sending out nastygram tweets about Bloomberg, and this act constitutes an invitation for moderators to cue her up for a prepared attack speech.
Also, Bernie Sanders has had a double-digit lead in Nevada polling for some time. To come out of this weekend with momentum, I think Bloomberg would need a debate performance and an electoral performance that rivaled or exceeded what Amy Klobuchar enjoyed in New Hampshire. Otherwise, his campaign will look like a stumble out of the gate. I don’t think there is enough time to accomplish what he needs, and there’s a significant risk of failure. My advice would be for Bloomberg to keep running his unconventional campaign and to make his real “entrance” in Florida, and campaign as the only viable alternative to a disastrous Sanders campaign.