There's a very interesting analysis of election spending at Axios, titled "Bloomberg's big bet on the power of money". (Click the image below for a larger view.)
Why it matters: 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.
- He’s blowing through cash to create a parallel (or bigger) unofficial, uncoordinated party infrastructure in case the DNC can’t help the eventual Democratic nominee enough in states that should be competitive with Trump.
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The big picture: Bloomberg's campaign has repeatedly said its will spend "whatever it takes" to defeat President Trump. There’s nothing stopping Bloomberg from topping $2 billion.
- With 2,100 paid staff, Bloomberg has three times as many as Trump, five times as many as Joe Biden and more than twice as many as Elizabeth Warren, according to data the campaigns provided to Axios.
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By the numbers: In just over a month, Bloomberg spent more than the top 2020 contenders spent for the whole final quarter of 2019 combined, according to Federal Election Commission data. He also outspent the entire RNC and DNC.
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Our thought bubble: The question is, will the anti-capitalist base of the Democratic Party reject a billionaire because of his very ability to self-finance, or could Democrats rally around the idea that it will take a billionaire businessman to beat Trump?
The bottom line: The American people are getting a lesson in how campaigns could be run if money were literally no object — and whether that’s enough to beat Trump.
There's more at the link.
It's an open question whether the radical wing of the Democratic Party will accept a less radical candidate, of course. Last month, Steven Hayward had some interesting thoughts about that possibility.
Watching Bloomberg’s many long TV ads running out here in expensive California right now ... prompts the thought that Bloomberg is setting himself up to run as an independent this year, especially if Sanders is the nominee.
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If you’ve seen any of Bloomberg’s ads, they are sustained attacks on Trump, which look like general election ads. He doesn’t mention he is a Democrat. He may yet attack Sanders directly before Super Tuesday, especially if Sanders wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, but I am sure his thinking runs like this: Sanders (or Warren) would be a landslide loser to Trump, so it might well be possible for a well-funded independent to siphon up enough votes from disaffected Democrats, independents, and other reluctant Trump voters to win a close three-way race. Bloomberg has the resources to outspend Trump.
I am surprised that there hasn’t been any media speculation about this, or reporters asking the Bloomberg campaign direct questions such as the one posed to Trump in 2016: Will you support the Democratic nominee, no matter who it is? Maybe there’s a reason Bloomberg, unlike Tom Steyer, isn’t interested in appearing in any of the primary debates.
Again, more at the link.
I don't know what to think about the situation, because this is a new development in US politics. The Citizens United decision kept the doors open to "big money" in political campaigns, but that was outside big money from donors. It didn't consider a candidate rich enough to spend billions of dollars of his own money, without needing donations at all. Can such political spending sway an electorate that, until now, has thought in political party terms? What about those who've become accustomed to voting a "straight ticket"? If Bloomberg runs as an independent, and his name doesn't appear on a party ticket at all, will that be a disadvantage for him?
Of course, the needs of party politics may allow Bloomberg's wealth to buy him support. If he "bribes" the Democratic Party by promising to donate a billion dollars or so in support of their Congressional and Senate candidates, will that tip their support to him at their nominating convention? It may be an irresistible carrot to dangle before the donkey(s). With that sort of money, they could realistically hope to keep their current majority in the House of Representatives, and possibly even take control of the Senate. That would mean that even if President Trump was re-elected, they'd be able to block his judicial nominations and stymie his policy agendas.
I guess only time will tell. This is turning into a very interesting political equation. We'll see how it works out in November.