We Need to Pay Attention to Mike Bloomberg’s Campaign

ANNAPOLIS, MD – JANUARY 22: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visits Maryland Lawmakers in Annapolis on January 22, 2019. Bloomberg talked with the media inside the State House.(Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
ANNAPOLIS, MD JANUARY 22: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visits Maryland Lawmakers in Annapolis on January 22, 2019. Bloomberg talked with the media inside the State House. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Was... ANNAPOLIS, MD JANUARY 22: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visits Maryland Lawmakers in Annapolis on January 22, 2019. Bloomberg talked with the media inside the State House. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS

A couple months ago I said that I was not surprised that Michael Bloomberg’s blanket television air war had ginned him up low single digit support. It’s sort of sad that a year of campaigning for an accomplished rising star Senator like Cory Booker couldn’t get that traction. But life isn’t fair. Running a lot of ads makes the first few points easy. There’s a decent number of floating voters. But once you get past 3% or 4% and try getting closer to 10% you need to start peeling away people with more fixed views and people who support other candidates. That’s much, much harder.

Well, I was wrong. It hasn’t been that hard.

The RCP average now has Bloomberg at 10.6% support nationally. That’s just a few percentage points behind Elizabeth Warren and rising rapidly.

On the one hand it is simply absurd that a late-seventies white mega-billionaire with umbilical ties to Wall Street is a serious contender for the Democratic nomination. But denying it doesn’t make it not so.

This seems particularly the case since Joe Biden’s flat performance in Iowa puts his candidacy in real doubt. I’m not saying Biden can’t come back. Maybe he’ll do well in New Hampshire. And he supposedly has this South Carolina firewall. But that fire wall is starting to remind me of Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 strategy of ditching the early states and banking on a comeback in Florida. By the time the campaign got to Florida, Rudy’s campaign was over.

I’m not writing Biden’s campaign off. But I think it’s in real doubt. If he does fold, there are going to be lots of Democratic voters who are mainly focused on beating President Trump and not ideologically in line with Sanders or Warren. Pete Buttigieg clearly thinks that is his opening. But I doubt it is. His base of support seems too narrow and I think to many voters he simply seems too young and inexperienced.

It is mind-boggling to me that we’re here. And it is more than a little terrifying to me to think of trying to unite the more left-leaning Democratic party of today around a candidate who embodies being a Wall Street Democrat, except for the times he was actually a Republican.

To be clear, I don’t think Mike Bloomberg will be the nominee. I think there’s a solid chance Joe Biden will be the nominee. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren could be the nominee. But this all seems like a much more possible outcome than I thought was remotely conceivable even a week or so ago.

When he jumped into the race a couple months ago after deciding not to run earlier, his candidacy struck me as the answer to a question no one was asking. But things have changed.

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