By Chris Kahn
NEW YORK (Reuters) - If former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg enters the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating race, he will be the fifth most-popular candidate, and his presence may draw more support away from former Vice President Joe Biden than others, a new Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll shows.
The Nov. 12-14 national poll found that 3% of Democrats and independents said they would vote for Bloomberg, who has not formally declared his candidacy but has taken steps toward a bid. A representative for Bloomberg declined to comment on the findings.
The result puts the billionaire media mogul well behind Biden and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (19% each), U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (13%) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana (6%). U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California also had 3% support in the poll.
Bloomberg, 77, who has submitted his name for Democratic primaries in Alabama and Arkansas, would join a field with nearly 20 Democratic contenders seeking to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.
The poll did not include former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who announced on Thursday that he also would compete for the nomination.
Click here for the poll results: https://tmsnrt.rs/370ofG9
Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said it will be tough for any newcomer to rise above the current batch of candidates, many of whom have been canvassing the country and raising money for nearly a year.
"Michael Bloomberg may have a path to the nomination, but it’s beyond my imagination to see what that path is," Kondik said.
A top challenge for Bloomberg would be to introduce himself to an electorate that is already swamped with choices for president. The poll found that only 46% of Americans and 49% of Democrats said they were familiar with Bloomberg, who left the New York City mayor’s office in 2013.
Among those who do know him, 41% said they have a favorable impression of Bloomberg, a level that is on par with Trump's. Among Democrats, 57% said they have a favorable view of Bloomberg, which is well below the favorability of other top Democrats who are running for president.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll gathered responses from 2,235 adults. It then split the sample into two groups: The first did not have Bloomberg as a choice when asked about their support for the 2020 Democratic nomination; the second group did.
When Bloomberg was not included as a choice, 23% of the respondents said they supported Biden. However, Biden’s support dropped to 19% among respondents who were given the choice to pick Bloomberg. In both cases, Biden remained atop the field of candidates, and Bloomberg does not appear to have shifted the ranking in a significant way.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 4 percentage points.
(Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)