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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.
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Go deeper

Updated 9 mins ago - Economy & Business

The states ending federal pandemic unemployment benefits early

Protesters demand senators support the continuation of unemployment benefits on July 16, 2020 in Miami Springs, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than a dozen Republican-led states have announced they are terminating their involvement in federal pandemic-related unemployment programs early.

Driving the news: Many of the states' governors cited worker shortages. But some experts say it's the job climate, including pandemic-era factors, and not unemployment benefits that is determining when and how people return to work.

Companies turn to pay hikes to lure workers

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

More hourly workers are getting a pay bump. Thank the new war for employees.

Why it matters: To meet the demand that's only expected to get more ferocious as reopening continues, companies are having to bid up to attract workers.