Support for multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg is surging. A new NPR, PBS News Hour and Marist national poll, released on Tuesday, shows the former New York City mayor at 19%. The good news for the candidate doesn’t stop there. He is now qualified to participate in Wednesday night’s Democratic debate.
What to make of Bloomberg? Although he entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination late, the $417 million he’s already spent on advertising alone seems to be paying off for him. He’s come out of nowhere and suddenly he’s at 15% in the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of national polls, only slightly below Biden whose support is in free fall and within shouting distance of Bernie who is currently at 24.5%.
The news becomes even rosier when we look at the RCP betting odds which show Bernie at 41.8% and Bloomberg at 32.2%. In contrast, following a dismal performance in Iowa and a disastrous night in New Hampshire, the odds of a Biden win, now at 5.7%, have fallen to SOS levels.
The contest is looking more and more like a two man race between Bernie and Bloomberg. Although I believe a Bernie Sanders presidency would destroy the country, he has taken positions and he campaigns on them. He stands for something. Last night, he attracted a crowd of over 17,000 at the Tacoma Dome in Washington state. While the arena holds 23,000 and the rock band, “Portugal. The Man,” also attracted attendees, it’s clear that this Democratic Socialist inspires real passion among his base.
What would explain Bloomberg’s swelling support? Does he really appeal to voters? Or is it just that the enormous amount of money he’s pouring into the race is translating into support?
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson addressed these questions in his Monday night monologue. He maintains that Michael Bloomberg isn’t running on anything.
“He’s trying to buy them [voters] and hence, the presidency. It’s the single most cynical political campaign ever run in this country. Bloomberg is trying to subvert our democracy with cash.”
Carlson compares the over $400 million Bloomberg has already spent on advertising to the spending of his rivals. Sanders has spent $40 million and Biden, $12.3 million.
Carlson said, “Bloomberg can’t be bothered with selling ideas or having a platform…He believes he can win by overwhelming voters with his money. This is the nightmare scenario that campaign finance reform activists used to tell us about.”
This should frighten Americans. His support among blacks is slowly rising. University of Maryland professor Jason Nichols, who is black, joined Carlson last night. He attributes this to Bloomberg’s “ubiquitous” ads. “They’re everywhere. Touting all the things he’s done for African-American communities whether they’re out of context, or what have you…He is not coming on shows like this and answering difficult questions. He’s drowning out criticism on things like stop and frisk…with his own advertising and he’s probably not going to go out in front of the media until after Super Tuesday.” He said that Bloomberg is avoiding the tough questions, he makes stump speeches and puts out ads. Other candidates don’t have that luxury, he added.
Carlson said that when you overwhelm the system with your personal wealth, it is an attack on Democracy. He asked Nichols if he’s bothered that it seems to be working.
Nichols “thinks it’s working in the short term, but particularly the African-American voters, they’re going to want answers.”
He also said that Bloomberg is surly. “He’s not energetic like Donald Trump, which is what I think won Trump the election. It wasn’t money. It was charisma. He’s not an intellect or anything like that. He had tons of charisma, which Bloomberg doesn’t have. So, he’s going to have to go out in front of these audiences and answer these questions, and I really don’t think that it’s going to bode well for him.”
Since his numbers have risen in the polls, reporters and competitors have begun digging for dirt and they’ve unearthed some rather unflattering pre-campaign videos of Bloomberg. By now, many Americans have seen the clip of his contemptuous remarks about farmers.
I could teach anybody in this room to be a farmer. It’s a process here, you dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on, add water, up comes the corn. You can learn that. Then you have 300 years of the industrial society… Now comes the information economy. And the information economy is fundamentally different, because it’s built around replacing people with technology and the skill sets you have to learn are how to think and analyze and that is a whole degree level different, you need to have different skill set, you have to have a lot more gray matter.
Well, the hard-working American farmers and machinists mocked by diminutive billionaire #MichaelBloomberg for being bereft of “grey matter” may have a few thoughts walking into the voting booth this November. #MiniMike pic.twitter.com/ykINEPdx1E
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) February 17, 2020
In another video obtained by the Dailywire, he is heard saying, ‘Black and Latino males don’t know how to behave in the workplace.” He had been discussing a large contribution he had made to a George Soros funded initiative intended to boost employment among minorities.
Blacks and Latinos score terribly in school testing compared to whites and Asians. If you look at our jails, it’s predominantly minorities. Virtually all perpetrators and victims of crime are minorities.
But, nevertheless, there’s this enormous cohort of black and Latino males aged, let’s say, 16 to 25 that don’t have jobs, don’t have any prospects, don’t know how to find jobs, don’t know that the — what their skill sets are, don’t know how to behave in the workplace, where they have to work collaboratively and collectively.
These comments are very similar to Mitt Romney’s remarks made to wealthy donors at a private campaign fundraiser. Candidate Romney told the group:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.
And I mean the president starts out with 48, 49 percent … he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
There is no doubt these words hurt Romney’s campaign.
If voters saw Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch, rich, white guy who had trouble connecting with voters, how much more will they see this in Bloomberg?
Nichols is right. Bloomberg is surly. So far, he’s a blank slate to the majority of Americans. Once they get to know him, many won’t like what they see and will resent the fact that he’s trying to buy their votes. People will get tired of seeing his face pop up on their social media platforms so frequently.
His primary opponents will keep hitting him on the spending issue and on past remarks.
If he wins the nomination, Bernie supporters will stay home in November in protest.
Additionally, President Trump is a very formidable rival with a long list of accomplishments as well as a loyal and solid base.
On Wednesday night, voters will meet Bloomberg for the first time.
We’ll see how it goes.