Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said during an interview with Bloomberg News that Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate was "a disaster of a debate for the Democratic Party and for the candidates."
"I didn't see anybody who had a good debate performance last night. How could you see anybody?" Sabato told Bloomberg News anchor David Westin on Wednesday. "It was messy, nasty, unruly, out of control, use whatever term you want."
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Sabato singled out Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News's parent company, for two consecutive "mediocre to bad" performances that haven't built upon the billionaire's historic ad buys.
"Bloomberg has been everywhere all the time," Sabato said about Bloomberg's ad blitz. "His performance in the first debate and last night's debate, in my view, was mediocre to bad, but you see, all I saw were Bloomberg ads leading up to the debate…. During the debate he had ads, after the debate he had ads."
A CBS poll of Democrats after Tuesday's debate revealed that the candidates left more respondents nervous than inspired.
Sabato predicted strife in the party if democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) receives only a plurality of delegates, leaving open the door for a brokered convention later this year. "Either you give the nomination to Bernie Sanders and accept whatever is coming in November, or you take it away from him," Sabato said, "and face a walk out by the Sanders delegates and voters come November."
Bloomberg has reportedly been working behind the scenes to convince Democratic Party officials to support him in a brokered convention.
Westin reminded viewers of Michael Bloomberg's ownership stake in the network during the segment. Bloomberg News instituted a policy in November not to use its campaign coverage to investigate its owner or any of his Democratic rivals.