I didn’t think it was possible for him to double his ad spending given how mammoth his spending has been already. At some point TV stations will simply run out of airtime to give him. Hadn’t we reached that point already?
Or are broadcast affiliates in Super Tuesday going to start setting up new TV channels for the exclusive purpose of running Bloomberg ads?
My guess is that this is a PR stunt, that he’s already near full saturation in advertising and just wanted to generate a headline for the media so that he can muscle in on the post-Iowa buzz today. If not, then he’s basically Dark Helmet in “Spaceballs” ordering his ship to “ludicrous speed.”
In the wake of an Iowa caucus debacle that has so far produced no winner, former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg authorized his advisers Tuesday morning to double television spending for his own presidential campaign, as his advisers have become more bullish on his odds of success.
The increase, from 1,200 gross ratings points in all targeted markets to 2,400 gross ratings points, represents a massive escalation of what is already the most costly campaign for the Democratic nomination in U.S. history…
“This is the best-case scenario,” Bloomberg senior adviser Howard Wolfson said of the confusing Iowa caucuses results. “After a year of running, the field is as unsettled as ever. No one has made the sale or even come close to it. Meanwhile, we are taking the fight to Trump every day.”
Meanwhile in New Hampshire, the great centrist hope, Joe Biden, apparently can’t even afford TV ads this week:
The post-Iowa field being “unsettled” is good for Bloomberg but it’s not enough. He needs it to be unsettled in a specific way to maximize his chances and it looks like he may have gotten that result last night. A caucus in which Biden finished first followed by Sanders and Warren battling for second wouldn’t have been encouraging for Bloomy since it would have established Biden’s strength and raised the possibility of the two left-wing candidates dividing progressives among themselves for months. That would have had centrist Dems screaming at Bloomberg to get out of the race and not complicate things for Biden, who would have been trying to consolidate the center.
But that’s not what we saw. Apparently what we got from Iowa was something like a dream scenario for Bloomberg — Sanders a solid first and Biden a dismal fourth, with Pete Buttigieg encouraged by a strong finish to hang in there and keep taking centrist votes from Joe. No one thinks Buttigieg is a match for Bernie long-term given establishment doubts about his age and electability against Trump, but Pete may have enough support to deplete Biden’s vote share in the early states. Bloomberg ideally wants Sanders to win Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada decisively over Biden and then look competitive with him in South Carolina. That’s the moment when panicked establishmentarians and moderate Democrats might pull the plug on Joe and start thinking of Bloomberg’s money machine as the only thing that can stop Bernie on Super Tuesday.
And although it’s unclear when we’ll have final results from Iowa, it looks like the first step towards that outcome was taken last night. New doubts about Joe’s viability and new fears about Bernie’s viability have seized the Democratic center, so Bloomberg’s going to seize the moment by spending even more. We’re left to wonder what he’d have done if Biden had won going away last night, with 40 percent or whatever. Would Bloomy already be scaling back?
If you think he’s unserious about trying to pick up Biden’s support if Joe flames out, note this bit in the NYT:
[I]n private, Bloomberg advisers have been making intensive overtures to Democratic elected officials to seek their support, including reaching out to officials who have already endorsed Mr. Biden and other Democratic candidates.
The tone of the overtures has been diplomatic, according to Democrats who have heard from Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign, but Mr. Bloomberg’s emissaries have made plain that they hope officials who are currently backing Mr. Biden will move in his direction if the former vice president flags badly in the coming weeks.
Dave Wasserman notes that Biden supporters and Bloomberg supporters are two distinct groups, which is true — but may be less true once we’re down to the “least of all evils” stage of winnowing the field:
The assumption that “Biden’s more moderate voters defect to Bloomberg when he face-plants” isn’t supported by much evidence.
Who are Biden’s supporters? 1) African-Americans 2) working-class whites 3) moderate affluent whites.
Only the third group is a natural Bloomberg fit.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) February 4, 2020
Right, but there’s also a mass of Democratic voters across all demographics who care less about who the nominee is than whether the nominee can beat Trump. The Times followed Bloomberg around California, where he’s campaigning today, and found that voters he ran into were intrigued by him on that point: “Many of those in the crowds said they were undecided, but were drawn to Mr. Bloomberg because they believed his fortune would give Democrats the best chance to beat President Trump in the fall.” I think that’s a key reason why he’s doubling his ad spending — not because he’ll get twice the voter interest he was getting before but because it signals to undecided Democrats just how far he’s willing to go to knock Trump out. “I need to spend a billion dollars to get rid of him? Fine. Two billion? Fine, whatever.” Biden’s been the national frontrunner for nine months on the strength of “electability” but Bloomberg has an electability argument too. If moderates of all stripes end up having to make a “Bernie or Bloomy” choice on Super Tuesday, why wouldn’t they choose the latter? Especially if influential establishment Dems like the ones Bloomberg is wooing start showing up for him on the trail to urge black and working-class white voters to support him.
I think Bloomberg might have even found something to like in Bernie’s otherwise strong performance last night:
3 big Bernie arguments took a hit yesterday:
-Caucuses are better than primaries, because they do more to measure enthusiasm
-Bernie will win the general election by inspiring tons of new voters
-Democrat-run gov't can smoothly take over and run the entire national health system
— Nicholas Grossman (@NGrossman81) February 4, 2020
It’s not so much that Sanders blew the roof off as that he was the best performer in a field that didn’t inspire much interest among disengaged Democrats in Iowa. A bunch of “low enthusiasm” elections on Super Tuesday is exactly what Bloomberg needs to win.
I’ll leave you with the clip below, which made me laugh. “Bloomberg’s advisers have also been cheered in recent days by President Trump’s continued desire to engage directly with Bloomberg, a businessman worth more than $50 billion,” noted WaPo in its story about his new ad spending. I made that point myself yesterday. Team Mike is blatantly trying to bait Trump into taking shots at him in the name of elevating him within the Democratic field. Here’s yet another example of that. So far Trump is playing along.
CBS News asked @MikeBloomberg — who is campaigning in California during the Iowa Caucuses — about his feud with President Trump, and whether people want to see two billionaires fighting on Twitter.
Bloomberg: "Two billionaires? Who's the second one?" pic.twitter.com/UYGENHauKw
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 4, 2020