Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

To beat President Trump, Mike Bloomberg wants to be candidate Trump.

The state of play: Axios visited Bloomberg's new campaign HQ in Times Square yesterday, and we were struck by how much his 1,000+-person team is learning from — while trying to surpass — the Trump campaigns of 2016 and 2020.

The big picture: Bloomberg is no Trump, but is trying to beat the president at his own game.

  • Social creature: Trump's re-election campaign has deployed Facebook in a bigger way than any campaign in history, outspending all the Democrats combined. Bloomberg's team openly admires the digital prowess of Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale and has built a "content factory" of constantly updating and iterating videos and messages that are narrowly targeted at — and constantly fed to — promising prospects.
  • Ubiquity: Trump forced himself into our lives with Twitter taunts and endless TV appearances. Bloomberg is buying his way into the minute-by-minute of our lives with TV ads. Bloomberg's team believes one of the key lessons of Trump campaign is that if voters see you on TV all the time, they'll take you seriously. At Bloomberg HQ, his TV ads play on a constant loop. It takes a while to realize it's not cable news, where his ads seem nearly as persistent.
  • Success sells: Like Trump, Bloomberg promises ad nauseam to replicate his professional success in governance. Many of Bloomberg's ads follow the rough arc of: 1) Hit Trump ... 2) Why the problem matters ... 3) What Mike did as New York mayor ... 4) What Mike would do as president. It's a key part of Bloomberg's effort to signal, both overtly and subliminally, that he's running against Trump — not the other Dems.
  • Slogan power: Bloomberg's massive data operation found that Bloomberg's record as mayor was one of his big selling points. And Bloomberg's inner circle thought "Make America Great Again" was an effective slogan. Voilà, the Bloomberg slogan: "Mike Will Get It Done." The twist: "It" can mean beating Trump, enacting gun control as president, or whatever the voter imagines.
  • It's all about brand, baby: Bloomberg, like Trump, has set up his campaign so his personal brand shines, win or lose. The former mayor is making plain he will spend up to $2 billion to win himself — or, if he loses, allocate some of that to the Democratic nominee and Bloomberg's pet causes. As a down payment, he's showering money on state and local parties to help them, up and down their tickets, regardless of who wins the primary.

The bottom line: Bloomberg wants to replicate and build off what Trump's campaign did best, without mimicking his style.

Go deeper ... Bloomberg: "I’m spending all my money to get rid of Trump"

Go deeper

The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

Federal judge rules Trump administration can't end census early

Census workers outside Lincoln Center in New York. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration could not end the 2020 census a month early.

Why it matters: The decision states that an early end — on Sept. 30, instead of Oct. 31 — would likely produce inaccuracies and thus impact political representation and government funding around the country.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
59 mins ago - Health

Where bringing students back to school is most risky

Data: Coders Against COVID; Note: Rhode Island and Puerto Rico did not meet minimum testing thresholds for analysis. Values may not add to 100% due to rounding; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Schools in Southern and Midwestern states are most at risk of coronavirus transmission, according to an analysis by Coders Against COVID that uses risk indicators developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The big picture: Thankfully, schools have not yet become coronavirus hotspots, the Washington Post reported this week, and rates of infection are lower than in the surrounding communities. But that doesn't mean schools are in the clear, especially heading into winter.

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