Mar 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bloomberg's historic bust

Mike Bloomberg waves to supporters at a rally in Florida
Mike Bloomberg waves to supporters in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Super Tuesday. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Never in American history has a presidential candidate spent more to get less than Mike Bloomberg, making his buy-a-nomination bid a big bust. 

Why it matters: Bloomberg spent $600 million to win as many states as every American who chose not to run: zero. (He has American Samoa to show for it.)

  • Fellow billionaire Tom Steyer got off — and out — cheap by spending less than half that much to tie Bloomberg in states won.

What's next: Look for Bloomberg to drop out as soon as this morning, and try to save face by promising to spend a helluva lot more to defeat President Trump with someone other than him.

  • Bloomberg returned to New York after speaking in West Palm Beach last night. Sources expect him to address staff at his headquarters today.
  • He doesn't want history to remember him as the spoiler who helps Sanders win the nomination, or hands re-election to Trump.

What happened:

  • Bloomberg bet Joe Biden was toast. He was wrong. 
  • Bloomberg bet Democrats would rally around him as the Electable One. He was wrong.
  • Bloomberg bet he could buy support with TV ads, while avoiding tough media interviews. He was wrong.
  • Bloomberg bet on a brokered convention. That could still happen, but he appears dead wrong that Democrats would turn to him as their savior.

Bloomberg's rivals — especially Elizabeth Warren — went after aspects of his record as a businessman and former Republican and New York mayor, and Bloomberg stumbled badly in his first debate appearance.

  • They hit him for past lawsuits and court settlements with women in the workplace, New York's stop-and-frisk policy and his views on taxes and China.
  • They seized on the Democratic base's mistrust of billionaires and the #MeToo movement and painted Bloomberg as an out-of-touch elite.

What they're saying: A nighttime Twitter thread by Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey gives the candidate an exit strategy if he wants one, and space to redefine success:.

  • Sheekey said that in just 100 days Bloomberg had gone from 1% in polls to being "a contender," and built a national coalition that can defeat Trump.

A Bloomberg campaign official told Axios that the endorsement of Biden by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), and the departures of Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg from the contest, had a "profound impact" on Super Tuesday's results.

  • "I'm from New York, so I know Bloomberg," supporter Stephen Dickstein told Axios at Bloomberg's rally in West Palm Beach, Florida. "I think he has done an amazing job but he’s not gonna be the nominee."

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