Michael Bloomberg is huddling with campaign advisors in New York today, reassessing his presidential campaign after his Super Tuesday strategy crashed and burned. Of the fourteen primaries held on March 3rd, Bloomberg won only the primary in American Samoa, which was worth a whopping seven delegates. Bloomberg’s strategy was to roll up delegates in population-rich states like Texas and California, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Joe Biden narrowly won the Lone Star State, while Sanders appears to have won the California primary fairly handily.
As of Wednesday morning, Biden has about 450 delegates, while Sanders has about 380. Bloomberg is a distant fourth, with 44 delegates allotted to him and trailing Elizabeth Warren thanks to his dismal showing on Tuesday.
Bloomberg’s plan has always been to get to a contested convention where no candidate has the majority of delegates needed to win the nomination on the first ballot. According to the latest predictions from the 538 political blog, the odds of a contested convention are still pretty high, with a 3-in-5 chance that no candidate gets to the magic number of 1,991 delegates before the Democrat convention in Milwaukee.
So, despite Bloomberg’s bad night, the prospects of a contested convention are still pretty good. Does that mean that Bloomberg stays in the race despite blowing $500-million and getting almost nothing in return? According to CNN, the campaign calculus seems to be simple: will staying in the race help or hurt Bernie Sanders.
A grim reality has set in around Bloomberg’s New York headquarters: Former Vice President Joe Biden
is overwhelming him in one state after another, despite spending virtually nothing compared to Bloomberg’s millions
“This isn’t going as planned,” one adviser said bluntly.
That mood is compounded by a sense of fear sweeping through Bloomberg’s operation that the New York mayor’s well-funded, sprawling operation could complicate Biden’s extraordinarily swift consolidation of the moderate wing of the party, and eventually help Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the candidate he set out to stop.
“No,” a top Democrat close to the campaign told CNN. “He does not want to help Sanders become the nominee.”
With the establishment (which is not moderate, despite CNN’s characterization) wing of the Democrat party coalescing behind Biden, there doesn’t appear to be much room for Bloomberg to grow his campaign, and even though his strategy didn’t depend on him actually winning in states like California and Texas, he was supposed to be competitive. Not only did he finish well behind Sanders and Biden in both states, he couldn’t even get to 15% in states like Virginia and North Carolina, where Bloomberg spent tens of millions of dollars in advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts. Biden won both states handily, despite the fact that he spent almost nothing on advertising in the region.
The conventional wisdom is that Bloomberg will drop out and start spending his money backing Biden and down-ticket Democrats. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen, though if I were the anti-gun billionaire I think I’d stick around for awhile. After all, Biden’s surge in support in South Carolina and Super Tuesday came largely out of nowhere, and if he continues to stumble on the campaign trail, it’s possible that voters in states that have yet to hold their primaries could see the former vice president as damaged goods.
On the other hand, I’m not convinced that establishment Democrats would turn to Bloomberg even if that happened. I think his abysmal debate performances, coupled with his inability to win a single competitive state on Super Tuesday, have crippled his argument that he’s the candidate who can best take on Donald Trump, and even if Democrats end up at a contested convention, I don’t think Bloomberg would be a shoo-in to win the nomination.
I’ll have another piece later today that explores what Bloomberg’s bad night might mean for his gun control agenda and organizations going forward, but for now, gun owners and Second Amendment supporters can take some small satisfaction in Bloomberg’s face-plant on Super Tuesday.
Well that was a quick assessment. Bloomberg announced Wednesday morning that he’s suspending his presidential campaign and is endorsing Joe Biden
. Most importantly, Bloomberg is planning on keeping his team in place to back Biden in the general election. From Axios:
Bloomberg has pledged
to pay his massive staff to continue to work through November to support whoever becomes the eventual Democratic nominee.
I can’t fathom Bloomberg spending a penny to support Bernie Sanders, so I’m assuming that Bloomberg’s now betting on Biden eventually getting the nomination.