Feb 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

"Billions": Season 2020

Mike Bloomberg speaks at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Va., on Saturday. Photo: James H. Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

Money alone can’t buy a presidential election, but it surely gets you VIP access.

Why it matters: Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is duking it out with Billionaire Donald Trump, often on Billionaire Jack Dorsey’s Twitter and in ads on Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, all chronicled in Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post. 

In this race, billions aren't just buying admission — they're buying results:

  • Bloomberg's TV blitz ($318 million, per FiveThirtyEight) has pushed him from nowhere to the top tier of national polls, alongside Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, and helped make him the talk of the post-New Hampshire race.
  • Billionaire Tom Steyer bought himself relevance ($137 million in TV ads), and a respectable showing in polls — with the chance for a strong showing in the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29.

And the whole ecosystem is a billionaire's ball:

  • 60% of Republicans say they rely on Billionaire Rupert Murdoch's Fox News for political news.
  • Most people follow the race on iPhones or Androids — both made by companies worth more than $1 trillion.

What to watch: Sanders is the one candidate who could target every one of these billionaires.

  • Longtime Sanders adviser Jeff Weaver, when asked by CNN's Brooke Baldwin yesterday if the Vermont senator — as nominee — would accept the money Bloomberg has promised to help defeat Trump, replied: "No."

So the 2020 race could easily be Bernie vs. The Billionaires.

  • Or, if Bloomberg wins: Battle of the Billionaires.

Go deeper

Warren calls Bloomberg an "egomaniac billionaire" ahead of his first debate

Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren. Photos: Alex Wong and Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday in accusing former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg of buying his way into the 2020 election, ahead of the ninth Democratic debate on Wednesday.

What she's saying: In a tweet, Warren wrote: "It’s a shame Mike Bloomberg can buy his way into the debate. But at least now primary voters curious about how each candidate will take on Donald Trump can get a live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire."

Tom Steyer drops out of 2020 presidential race

Tom Steyer. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Billionaire Tom Steyer ended his 2020 presidential campaign on Saturday after struggling to gain traction in early state primaries, including a third-place South Carolina finish that isn't expected to earn delegates.

The big picture: Steyer, a late entrant to the race, vowed to spend $100 million of his own money on the campaign — a move that upset some grassroots Democrats.

Polls: Sanders in control over Biden, Bloomberg

Photos: Brett Carlsen/AFP via Getty Images; Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images; Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A group of top national polls released this week show Bernie Sanders in control of the 2020 Democratic race ahead of Wednesday's debate in Las Vegas.

The state of play: Joe Biden, who has been at the top of the polls for months, plunged after lackluster performances in Iowa and New Hampshire — allowing Sanders to surge ahead as billionaire Mike Bloomberg has cut into the former vice president's lead among moderate voters.