I’m reliably informed that they are by the Free Beacon, which has links plus a three-minute segment from CNN that was devoted to dissecting … this. Watch, then read on.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 20, 2020
In case you were misled, let me assure you that there wasn’t actually a 20-second stretch of awkward silence at last night’s debate during which five professional politicians made goofy faces while trying to come up with something to say in response to being asked if they’d ever started a business.
But then, you knew that. Because, unlike some in our media and the broader liberal commentariat online, you’re not a mentally defective three-year-old.
I don’t think any journalists really fear that people will be misled by it. They’re scrutinizing the ad for the same reason they scrutinized that obviously jokey photoshop that Trump tweeted out months ago of him bestowing the Medal of Honor on the dog that took part in the al-Baghdadi raid. It comes from a politician whom they dislike and whom the far-far-leftists they follow online *really* dislike, and it bolsters an already extant narrative about that politician. There’s been lots of Democratic chatter lately about Bloomberg trying to mislead people into believing that Obama has endorsed him, and of course his attempt to buy the nomination is seen as cynical dirty pool by people across the political spectrum. The rap on Bloomy is that he’s a cheater.
So when a reporter sees a clip like the one above and then watches progressives online whining about it, well, there’s a new data point. Bloomy’s a cheater. Not “Bloomy employs lots of lavishly remunerated trolls to post silly lulz like this.”
He better crank out a lot more of them to try to distract from last night’s performance. A lot, lot more.
Most-watched presidential primary debates of all-time —
1. First 2016 GOP Debate, FNC, 8/6/15 (Trump debut): 24.0M TV viewers
2. Second 2016 GOP Debate, CNN, 9/16/15: 23.06M
3. Ninth 2020 Democratic Debate, NBC and MSNBC, 2/19/20 (Bloomberg debut): 19.66M
— Medium Buying (@MediumBuying) February 20, 2020
No way to know how much of the blockbuster ratings were due to the Democratic race being at an inflection point after Iowa and New Hampshire and how much were due to Bloomberg’s entrance into the arena, but this was bad timing for him to wet the bed. There are more reasons to be bearish about Bloomy’s prospects than to be bullish about them, says Nate Silver, starting with the fact that the projections in FiveThirtyEight’s model for delegate totals after Super Tuesday leave him in a deep hole relative to Sanders:
Still, 38 percent of all pledged delegates will have been handed out after Super Tuesday, so having only about a fifth of the delegates awarded to that point would make it nearly impossible for Bloomberg to get a majority of delegates later on. And it would be highly difficult for Bloomberg to even get a plurality with Sanders having about twice as many delegates as the former mayor. His chances at that point would probably depend on a contested convention…
[A]s the debate exposed, if Bloomberg has some unique strengths as a candidate — his money, a smart team behind him, and a slightly Trumpian ability to command media attention — he also has some unique weaknesses. These include: his lack of polish as debater and public speaker, his past as a Republican, his status as a billionaire in the age of Sanders and Warren, his lack of practice as a candidate because of his campaign’s late start, New York’s use of the stop-and-frisk policy during his time as mayor and his relationship to black voters, his age (78), and the lewd comments he has allegedly made toward and about women. On top of that, we don’t know anything yet about how Bloomberg’s support in polls will translate into actual votes; as compared with most other Democrats, his voters are more likely to say they haven’t firmly committed to a candidate.
Rarely does a candidate have a debate so bad that his own team is forced to admit that it was bad rather than try to spin “good moments” from it or whatever. That’s the great irony of people hyperventilating over his jokey ad — they’ve elevated one of the precious few kinda sorta effective exchanges he had into a viral clip. Via the Free Beacon, here’s one Bloomy advisor admitting that he “wasn’t ready” for the rest of the field to try to knock him out last night even though literally everyone predicted a pile-on of Bloomberg going in. His campaign manager told MSNBC this morning that “Mike’s gotta get his legs under him,” while adding, hopefully, “This is a campaign that right now is just getting interesting.” Dude, it’s 12 days to Super Tuesday. You have about five minutes to derail the Bernie coronation.