In the broadest view, we can say without fear of refutation that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent a LOT of money and got very few delegates – approximately 60 — in his quest for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
Using simple arithmetic – and a fair estimate of his campaign expenditures of around $600 million – it appears he paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $19 million per delegate. Very expensive neighborhood, indeed. But no sympathy for Bloomberg. That expenditure is only one percent of his net worth.
By way of comparison, the Chicago Democrat machine pays voters bout $20 to cast Democrat ballots. It is called “street money.” Had Bloomberg paid voters directly – like they do in Chicago — he would have garnered 30 million votes.
In evaluating Bloomberg’s entrance and exit for the race, we can look at negative outcomes, positive impacts and what the future holds for one of the top ten richest men in the world.
Bloomberg has a reputation as one of the most intelligent men in the world. A shrewd operator who rarely makes a mistake – and never a big one. So … what made such a smart guy believe that he could skip early primaries, spend more money than any candidate in history – and more than all his competitors combined – duck the first debates, avoid pressing the flesh and win the nomination?
Obviously, he thought that he could flood the media markets with slick advertisements that show him as a two-dimensional figure espousing focus group-tested talking-points. He thought he would sell that man on the screen. Smart guy should have known better. Ergo, Bloomberg’s reputation for being a highly intelligent chap took a well-deserved hit.
When finally seen in the pit of political combat, the image of that man on the screen faded and the American public could see quite a different person. First of all, he was a lot shorter than most people believed. He was not terribly articulate – and a terrible debater.
There were also some unseemly parts of his history that had been out of sight before he finally stepped into the bright spotlight of public scrutiny – and opposition research. Turned out that Bloomberg had a significant history of inappropriate behavior with women – so much so that he had engaged in a number of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to silence the ladies. That certainly did not go over well in the age of the #MeToo Movement.
Although it was clear that among the Democrat contenders, Bloomberg opposed Sanders almost as much as he hated President Trump. Still, the Bloomberg campaign gave Sanders a good lead-off by taking support away from former Vice President Joe Biden. If the Democrats are forced into a chaotic brokered convention or Sanders somehow still wins the nomination, you can blame Bloomberg.
For any positive impacts, you must look at it from the standpoint of the Democratic Party. After all, it is the Democratic Party he has been hoping to help – as a candidate or as a fat cat. It appears that Bloomberg’s few hundred million dollars in political ads directed against President Trump had no more effect on public opinion than they did in building support for Bloomberg’s campaign. Trump’s favorable rating appears to have even increased a bit during that time.
Bloomberg’s presence in the race most certainly delayed the coalescence of Biden’s support. But as a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat establishmentarian, Bloomberg ultimately helped Biden by his consistent opposition to Senator Bernie Sanders. Bloomberg’s money and campaign brought him a level of notoriety so that his ultimate endorsement of Biden had more impact. Had Bloomberg not run, an earlier endorsement of Biden would have hardly been a blip on the political radar – largely ignored by national media.
Of course, the BIG benefit to Biden and the Democrats is M-O-N-E-Y. Without those billions being dangled in front of the #NeverTrump Movement, Bloomberg would have zero impact. He is more than a run-of-the-mill billionaire. He is a mega-billionaire who can spend unimaginable amounts of money – as compared to guys like Tom Steyer, who could not come close to matching Bloomberg if he had donated his entire fortune.
The idiotic federal elections laws in America enable Bloomberg to have a real impact even though candidates are limited to a piddly $2700 they can take from an individual. Bloomberg can – and will – set up an independent expenditure committee through which he can spend as much as he likes to support candidates – as long as he does not coordinate … collude … or conspire with them. He will expend more “fat” than any fat cat in American history.
With that kind of money, Bloomberg has proposed to spend defeating Trump, the future options are almost limitless. If he wants to go into what is laughingly called “public service,” he could get almost any cabinet position he desires. The Democratic Party would also bless any office he might seek in the future – governor, senator.
On the other hand, Bloomberg may prefer to run around as an unbelievably rich person — letting the political and charitable worlds bow at his feet. Not a bad option.
So, there ‘tis.