AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Michael Bloomberg got some bad news in his nascent campaign for president over the weekend. The first public opinion poll to include him in a list of candidates was released, and it revealed soft support and high disapproval ratings for the former New York City mayor and anti-gun advocate.
Nearly 25 percent of likely primary voters view him unfavorably — the highest unfavorable rating in the field — while about 31 percent view him favorably, according to the poll.
In contrast, nearly three-quarters of Democratic primary voters view Joe Biden favorably, compared to about 18 percent who hold an unfavorable opinion of him.
Biden, the former vice president, continues to lead the primary contest nationally, with about 31 percent support. He is followed by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, at about 20 percent and 18 percent, respectively, according to the poll.
Bloomberg was picked as the top choice for president by just 4% of the poll’s respondents, which puts him ahead of Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson, but squarely in the second tier of candidates like Kamala Harris and far behind front runners Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.
Supporters of Bloomberg say that all that could chance once Mayor Mike’s money and messaging starts flowing to primary states where he’s planning on competing.
Bloomberg has not yet said definitively if he will run, and his supporters believe that the money he could immediately pour into advertising if he does could move public opinion. The contest remains unsettled less than three months before the Iowa caucuses, potentially helping a newcomer.
It was only recently that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg “suddenly became a player,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a New York-based Democratic strategist who worked on Bloomberg’s last mayoral campaign.
“Bloomberg is a very smart guy who calculates very clearly,” Scheinkopf said. “No one thought he would win the New York City mayoralty. He did. Nobody thought he could win a third term. He did.”
He did win a third term as mayor, though it took him more than $100-million in spending to win that race a decade ago. Bloomberg spent roughly $174 per vote in that race. His opponent was expected to get trounced in that election, but as it turns out, Bloomberg ended up eking out a win.
But Mr. Bloomberg’s unpopular drive to overturn the city’s term limits law, his lavish campaign and a sputtering economy soured thousands of New Yorkers on him, even though most admired his record in office.
On Election Day, their frustration erupted into public view: Mr. Bloomberg won by fewer than 5 percentage points, at a cost of about $20 million for each point.
Turnout was unusually low — 585,000 New Yorkers cast votes for him, compared with 753,089 in 2005 and 744,757 in 2001, records show.
“He didn’t seem to get very much for his money,” Mr. Russianoff said.
On the contrary, he got exactly what he wanted for his money; a third term as mayor of New York. So what if he spent more money on a mayoral race than anyone else in history? He won, didn’t he?
At $174 a vote, Bloomberg could collect the support of more than 5-million Americans if he decides to spend a billion dollars on his presidential ambitions. Unfortunately for Bloomberg, he’s going to need the support of millions more if he’s going to be successful. In 2016, Hillary Clinton collected more than 16-million primary votes on her way to the party’s nomination. If his last mayoral race is any indication, Bloomberg might have to burn through several billion dollars if he’s going to stand a serious chance of winning the 2020 Democrat primary vote. Unfortunately for gun owners and lovers of freedom, he’s got the money to do it.
We’ll see how serious Bloomberg is over the next couple of weeks. There’s a filing deadline for the Arkansas primary on Tuesday of this week, and Illinois, California, and Texas have deadlines in early December. I’d still be surprised if Bloomberg does launch a full-scale campaign for president, but as I wrote over the weekend, until he’s officially out, gun owners have billions of reasons to take his campaign seriously.