Bloomberg Hedges His Bets on Super Tuesday

With the late introduction of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg into the Democratic primary, the race for the presidency has entered uncharted territory. With a net worth in the ballpark of $60 billion, Bloomberg can easily outspend any other candidate which he has proceeded to do so on an enormous scale. And the centerpiece of his spending strategy: the humble television ad.

Since entering the race in November of 2019, Mayor Bloomberg has spent over $400 million on television ads all over the country, specifically targeting Super Tuesday states—the first contests in which he will be on the ballot—where over a third of all delegates will be in play. But, money does not necessarily translate into votes as evidenced by the campaign of fellow billionaire Tom Steyer who dropped out of the race Saturday night after spending over $150 million on television ads and floundering in early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. So the test for Mr. Bloomberg’s strategy will be whether he can convert his dollars into delegates on Tuesday and whether he can amass enough delegates to give him a shot of actually winning the nomination and not simply play spoiler for fellow moderate, former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Through his spending, Mayor Bloomberg has achieved a level of visibility that has at least brought him limited success in polling. In the span of four months, Mr. Bloomberg has made himself more competitive, both nationally and in Super Tuesday states, than many other candidates who have been the race much longer, but he has yet to truly pose a serious challenge in any of these contests to frontrunners Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. Not that he necessarily needs to, as the DNC only requires a candidate to reach a fifteen percent statewide minimum in order to pick up delegates in a contest, a mark he could feasibly meet in many states. On the other hand, with visibility comes scrutiny and with scrutiny comes controversy, and Mr. Bloomberg has faced two big ones since entering the race. First, his defense of the stop-and-frisk policy he expanded as Mayor of New York City, and second, his refusal to condemn Chinese President Xi Jinping as an authoritarian dictator. 

Throughout his twelve year tenure as mayor and long after, Mr. Bloomberg has long defended the policy of stop-and-frisk, even after it was ruled unconstitutional for disproportionately targeting and violating the rights of young black and Hispanic men, only changing his tune when he jumped into the presidential race. Many critics point to stop-and-frisk as evidence of Mr. Bloomberg’s overly technocratic tendencies, tendencies that often produce racist policies through the guise of good, data-driven intentions. On the international front, Mr. Bloomberg has routinely defended the Chinese Communist Party against charges of authoritarianism, neither speaking out in support of pro-Democracy protesters in Hong Kong nor condemning the CCP’s persecution of Uighur Muslims in what has been called the largest religious internment since the Holocaust, all while attacking Sen. Sanders over his support of communist dictatorships in Latin America such as the Castro regime in Cuba and the Ortega regime in Nicaragua. 

Despite the limited success his spending and relative name recognition have brought him, Mr. Bloomberg still has an uphill battle for the Democratic nomination. Coming off the heels of Joe Biden’s decisive victory in the South Carolina primary Saturday and a reinvigorated migration of moderate Democratic donors over to Biden’s campaign, many fear that should Bloomberg stay in the race, he will only serve to prevent Biden from consolidating the party’s moderate wing and hand the nomination to left-wing candidate Bernie Sanders. Sanders’ aforementioned socialist sympathies may drive voters out of the Democratic coalition and into Donald Trump’s camp. For all three of these campaigns—Michael Bloomberg, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders—all eyes are on Super Tuesday whose contests will undoubtedly set the tone for the rest of the primary season.

Quibbls:

Will Michael Bloomberg win delegates in at least half of the Super Tuesday contests? Link

Which candidate will be first to drop out after Super Tuesday? Link

Will Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders win more delegates on Super Tuesday? Link

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