The Horse Race
Nothing much new in the big Democratic presidential horse race this week. It’s starting to read like a law firm: Biden Sanders & Warren with one important change; Michael Bloomberg.
The state-level polling has two groupings: the Early States and the Super Tuesday States. The same ‘law firm’ leads in both. Early States (IA, NH, SC, NV) Biden 29%, Sanders 19%, Warren 13%,Buttigleg 11%, Steyer 10%, Yang 5%, Bloomberg 3%, Klobuchar 3%, Gabbard 3%
Super Tuesday (AL, AR, CA, CO, ME, MA, MN, NC, OK, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA). Biden 29%, Sanders 25%, Warren 14%, Buttigleg 7%, Bloomberg 6%, Yang 4%, Steyer 4%, Klobuchar 3%.
Arizona’s Democratic Presidential Primary is March 17th. The Republicans have decided not to have one.
Bloomberg’s ROI: 5th Place
The notable exception to “the law firm” is that Michael Bloomberg has been spending his way from zero to about 7% nationally and 6% for Super Tuesday. He’s not doing nearly as well in the Early States (3%) having decided to put most of his energy and that financial reach into the Super Tuesday states.
In recent weeks he’s been blanketing the airwaves, introducing himself to voters in essentially every TV market in the country.
“We’re going to places where Democrats for the most part are not going right now, where we have to win in order to win the White House in 2020,” says Michael Nutter, a former Philadelphia mayor who’s now Bloomberg’s national political chair Nutter points to his home state.
“Pennsylvania doesn’t vote until April,” he says. “But there’s an office now open in Philadelphia and there will be others in Pennsylvania way before [the primary].” (Source; NPR 12/27/19)
Bloomberg has already spent over $100 million on TV ads in 24 states and 100 news markets. And he’s just starting. While you’re waiting for the Super Bowl half-time show with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, keep your eyes open for a ridiculously expensive 60-second Bloomberg spot. How expensive? Try $10-million according to Variety.
But wait! There’s more. Apparently, once the Trump campaign caught wind of what Bloomberg was up to they bought air time too.
Bloomberg’s ads are mostly “combo spots ” starting out with his substantial biography introducing him to voters. The second half of the combo is devoted to exposing the record of Donald Trump in a demonstration of how effective Bloomberg could be in the general election.
But as good as it is for Bloomberg to have climbed so quickly, 5th place is still a long drop from Joe Biden who continues to lead the field at 31%; comfortably ahead of both Sanders and Warren with Buttigieg who has been campaigning for quite a while still stuck in single digits even after spending several million of his own.
The Ground Game
Before you start thinking Bloomberg’s strategy is entirely television-based, what really has political pros sitting up and taking notice is that the campaign has already placed over 200 seasoned staffers in the Super Tuesday states. Insiders say they’re also primed to pick up additional staffers and campaign firms once the field starts to narrow after the Early Primaries.
So, Bob, Does Bloomberg have a chance?
I think he does, perhaps even a good one. The odds are against any of the Democrats who can’t seem to get any traction despite all their campaigning, some for a year or more.
The underlying concern for Democrats remains who can beat Trump? And that’s where weaknesses are starting to show with the top-tier candidates. Not huge disqualifying weakness, but some of their positions are not testing as well with general election voters as they are Democrats. “Medicare for All” while popular in various forms among Democrats, non-Democrats are voicing concerns that hearken back to questions about the Affordable Care Act. a.k.a. Obamacare.
Questions about how this health care system would function such as whether citizens would be required to sign up despite liking their current health insurance aren’t easily answered. And the financial side of the various proposals seems to be just plain confusing.
So despite all the polling that shows virtually any Democrat with a pulse is able to beat Trump, someone like Bloomberg might very well be who the Party eventually turns to.
Welcome to 2020.