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Berne fans are hopping mad that over D.N.C. Debate Rule Changes that could open the door for Bloomberg.

The D.N.C. announced Friday that in order to participate in the debate, set for Feb. 19 in Las Vegas, a candidate must win at least a single delegate in either the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary or meet polling requirements.

It has eliminated the requirement that candidates must have received donations from hundreds of thousands of individuals. Mr. Bloomberg, a multibillionaire, is running a self-funded campaign and is not soliciting donations.

The changes, which represent the most significant tightening of debate requirements this cycle, set off a fresh and pointed round of criticism at a critical moment in the race, as several campaigns braced for the reality check that the Iowa caucuses will provide.

To meet the latest polling threshold, candidates must earn 10 percent in four qualifying national polls or 12 percent in two polls taken in Nevada or South Carolina by a qualifying pollster.

“To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong,” said Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Mr. Sanders. “That’s the definition of a rigged system.”

Tightening? Not For One

These changes represent significant loosening of the rules for Bloomberg even if it's tightening for most.

The article points out that Only former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have so far met the polling threshold for the Nevada debate.

However, the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary have not yet taken place, and a candidate need only win 1 delegate to be on stage.

Iowa More Questions Than Answers

Yesterday I asked Who is Really Ahead in the Iowa Caucus?

Here's the obvious question: Are the two polls for Biden correct or are the 3 polls for Biden?

I still do not know the answer.

Also I am concerned that is not even the right question.

What does "ahead" even mean?

Warren and Buttigieg Wildcards

What happens in Iowa will largely depend on what Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg do.

If Warren tops 15% in most or all of those districts, that will roughly be her percent of the delegates.

The same applied to Buttigieg.

Four What Ifs?

  1. What if Warren tops 15% but Buttigieg doesn't?
  2. What if Buttigieg tops 15% but Warren doesn't?
  3. What if neither tops 15%?
  4. What if both do?

Crucial Questions Answered

1: Votes for Buttigieg are more likely to go for Biden than the others.

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2: Votes for Warren are highly likely to go to Bernie.

3: I suspect Bernie is the winner but it is harder to say.

4: I suspect Biden will pick up more of those for voting for Klobuchar, Yang, Steyer, etc.

More Complications

It's even a bit more complicated than that.

Warren might not get 15% nationally yet get 15% in most of the districts. Only in those districts where she fails to get 15% will those initial votes get recast.

The same applies to Buttigieg.

Two Winners

What Warren and Buttigieg do in Iowa greatly matters to Biden.

Bernie can easily win the first round, yet Biden can come away with more delegates.

Who's the winner? Both or the one with more delegates?

New Hampshire Primary Rules

The New Hampshire primary is not a "closed primary", where voter participation is limited by voters' past or recent party registration. Instead, New Hampshire enables any voter who has been undeclared, or re-registers as undeclared (not registered with any party) to vote in either party's primary.

New Hampshire has 24 pledged delegates and 9 unpledged (superdelegates). There are 16 districts. 8 delegates are district-wide. Pete Buttigieg is polling 15% in one poll, 17% in two recent polls and 10% in another. He is likely to get 15% state-wide, and even if he doesn't he is likely to get 15% in some districts. A single delegate puts him on the stage.

National Polls

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Bloomberg has one of the polls he needs and was knocking of the door in another.

I suspect he will buy enough ads in Nevada to make the debates.

Five Person Race? Six?

Assuming Buttigieg wins a delegate somewhere and Bloomberg can get the required polls, the Feb. 19 in Las Vegas debate will be down to five.

  1. Bernie Sanders
  2. Joe Biden
  3. Elizabeth Warren
  4. Michael Bloomberg
  5. Pete Buttigieg

This is likely the top end. It could be as few as the first three. But it could also be 6.

To get into the next debate, all Amy Klobuchar has to do is win one delegate in either Iowa or New Hampshire. That can easily happen. The rest of the candidates are toast.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock