One way to qualify for the Democratic debates at the end of this month is to receive 1% in three pre-approved polls by Democratic National Committee.
Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado just hit three with the release of our new CNN poll.
What's fascinating about Bennet getting 1% in our CNN poll is who chose him as their first choice. Before voters were provided with a list of all the candidates and asked to choose their first choice in the primary, they were asked about whether they had "a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Michael Bennet - or if you have never heard of him". Among the 44% of potential Democratic primary voters who had said they had heard of Bennet, 0% said he was their first choice in the primary. But among the 56% of primary voters who claimed they'd never heard of Bennet, enough of them chose Bennet in a listed ballot to get him to 1% in our poll overall.
That is, Bennet qualified for the Democratic debates thanks to voters who said they'd never heard of him. Maybe they just liked the sound of his name? Or perhaps being listed among the other Democratic candidates in the ballot test triggered something in their memory to remind them who Bennet was?
Either way, Bennet is the beneficiary.
The only potential bad news for Bennet is that he's now the 20th to qualify for the debates, according to CNN. If one more candidate qualifies amongst this group Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam or Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, Bennet may left out of the debates via a tiebreaker.