Billionaire Mike Bloomberg has nobody to blame but himself for fading so quickly from contention in the Democratic nomination race. FiveThirtyEight now has him at a 0.4% chance of securing the nomination before the convention despite having spent half a billion dollars already on his campaign. What went so wrong?
It all started with his first debate performance. It was his first huge mistake of the election cycle after making essentially flawless decisions leading up to it. Perhaps ego and encouragement from his advisers got the better of him; he shouldn’t have been anywhere near a camera until he had established himself as a real player on Super Tuesday. Now, he has deflated his once-promising campaign even after a slightly better second debate performance last week.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is proving to be a campaign-by-attack candidate who can only make news by talking about others, set her sights on Bloomberg and his non-disclosure agreements. Dozens of women have settled with him and his companies over the decades, and Warren isn’t letting that attack route go even after he agreed to release three women from their NDAs. Attacking Senator Bernie Sanders in January hurt her chances. Going after Bloomberg isn’t helping, but at least it’s not hurting.
But the real dagger lodged into Bloomberg’s nomination chances came Saturday after an impressive showing by former Vice President Joe Biden. His huge victory reestablished him as the frontrunner in the moderate lane, making Bloomberg’s onus to swoop in and save the party from Sanders no longer required, at least in the eyes of many Democratic voters. Bloomberg desperately needed Biden to crash and burn in South Carolina. What happened was nearly as dramatic as a phoenix rising from its ashes.
Where is Bloomberg now with two days before the biggest event of primary season? Sunday, he spoke at a church in Selma, Alabama, where a small but mightily symbolic group of churchgoers stood and turned their backs on him as he spoke. It’s the exact image Bloomberg did not need. It’s the image that should (and probably will) doom his campaign going forward.
No Democratic candidate for president can find success without getting support from the Black community at the national level. Had Sanders done so in 2016, he would have been the nominee. The Black vote saved Hillary Clinton thanks in large part to exertion of influence by the DNC through Black community leaders. Bloomberg’s history of targeting minority men age 18-25 cannot be erased no matter how many billions of dollars he spends on the attempt.
Sanders is still the most likely candidate to get a plurality of delegates before the Democratic National Convention, but his chances of getting a majority have dipped below 30% for the first time in a month, according to FiveThirtyEight. They give a contested convention a 60% chance.
The only redeeming quality of Mike Bloomberg is that he’s rich, and he’s running for the nomination in a party that is increasingly hostile towards wealth. He is uninspiring and not nearly as smart as he believes. Is his campaign already done?