Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Democrats should be watching 2020 candidates' spending and cash flow, not their polls, to understand "more about where this race is going," trail veteran Peter Hamby writes for Vanity Fair.

Where it stands: In response to the big question of who can scale up for Super Tuesday, Bloomberg is spending the most digital and network ad money on Super Tuesday and the Rest Belt — not on early primary states, like the rest of his Democratic competitors.

The big picture: Bloomberg is betting that enough exposure — through a $300m+ ad campaign and a non-traditional run that looks past the early four states — will make him competitive in Super Tuesday, and make all Democrats stronger in the general election, per Axios' Alexi McCammond and Stef Kight.

David Axelrod, President Obama's 2008 campaign manager, told Vanity Fair: "The cost of competing across 14 states is astronomical ... For Bloomberg, the Super Tuesday ante is lunch money. He will be able to communicate at a high level everywhere."

  • "Bernie has a reliable, renewable war chest and universal recognition."
  • "[T]he others ... have to hope to catch a wave of publicity and dollars off of unexpected showings in Nevada and South Carolina."

Lily Adams, a former adviser to Sen. Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton, told Vanity Fair: "[I]f the Democrats are holding onto the precious myth that the first four states can somehow level the political playing field and lift up underdog campaigns ... they’re in for a brutal reality check..."

  • "To run a competent ballot chase program in say, California, you need real sustained money, not money you get from one good night."

The bottom line: Super Tuesday — essentially a national primary — is just three days after the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29, the last of the early four.

Go deeper: Bloomberg's Super Tuesday splurge

Go deeper

Coronavirus surge punctures oil's recovery

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The growth of coronavirus cases is "casting a shadow" over oil's recovery despite the partial demand revival and supply cuts that have considerably tightened the market in recent months, the International Energy Agency said Friday.

Why it matters: IEA's monthly report confirms what analysts have seen coming for a long time: Failure to contain the virus is a huge threat to the market rebound that has seen prices grow, but remain at a perilous level for many companies.

2 hours ago - Sports

Big Ten's conference-only move could spur a regionalized college sports season

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Big Ten announced Thursday that it will move all fall sports to a conference-only schedule.

Why it matters: This will have a snowball effect on the rest of the country, and could force all Power 5 conferences to follow suit, resulting in a regionalized fall sports season.

The second jobs apocalypse

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

This week, United Airlines warned 36,000 U.S. employees their jobs were at risk, Walgreens cut more than 4,000 jobs, it was reported Wells Fargo is preparing thousands of terminations this year, and Levi's axed 700 jobs due to falling sales.

Why it matters: We have entered round two of the jobs apocalypse. Those announcements followed similar ones from the Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Choice hotels, which all have announced thousands of job cuts, and the bankruptcies of more major U.S. companies like 24 Hour Fitness, Brooks Brothers and Chuck E. Cheese in recent days.