President Bloomberg?

All of a sudden, we have to take Mike Bloomberg’s presidential candidacy seriously.

Just how seriously remains to be seen: He isn’t on the ballot for Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, so he hasn’t had to face voters quite yet. But with former Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy looking iffy, and with a sense of alarm growing among Democratic activists, the former mayor of New York City is starting to seem plausible. A new Quinnipiac poll on Monday showed him “surging” into third place among Democratic candidates — and into second place with African-American voters who had been supporting Biden. It is time to earnestly consider the possibility that Bloomberg will be the Democratic nominee for president.

What a weird election year this is turning out to be.

Bloomberg still has to prove himself, of course. He hasn’t really tangled with fellow Democratic candidates, and there is a certain “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” quality to his decision to mostly eschew the usual face-to-face campaigning that most candidates endure during the primaries, choosing instead to spend a lot of money — his own money — on TV ads in the Super Tuesday states.

What are we to make of Bloomberg’s ascent? There are several possible conclusions:

1. Parties don’t matter anymore. Ronald Reagan used to explain his midlife conversion from the Democratic Party to the GOP by announcing that he hadn’t left Democrats — they had left him. These days, it isn’t certain that anybody would care. Donald Trump became the GOP nominee in 2016 mostly out of convenience; he had spent a lifetime writing contribution checks to Hillary Clinton, pronouncing his support for abortion rights, and generally living the kind of New York libertine lifestyle that doesn’t always play well in Republican-red precincts of “real” America. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) came close to knocking off Clinton during that year’s primaries, and is a frontrunner to win the nomination this year — and he isn’t even a member of the Democratic Party.

Similarly, Bloomberg’s political allegiances have ebbed and flowed depending on what was advantageous to him: He was a Democrat until deciding to run for mayor in 2001, when he registered as a Republican. He re-registered as an independent after a few years, then became a Democrat again in 2018. It was once the case that a presidential nomination had to be earned, in part, by years and decades of building up relationships within the party. Not anymore.

2. Money matters a whole lot. Back in December, my colleague Bonnie Kristian pointed to the then-piddling performances of billionaires Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, and proclaimed that “money doesn’t matter much in politics.” It seemed like a good argument at the time. But a big factor in Bloomberg’s rise — perhaps the biggest — is the sheer amount of cash he is dropping. He has spent $250 million on TV and radio ads, and as much as $50 million on …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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