Bloomberg's plans in Iowa and New Hampshire are to disappear

The guy most likely to push for the death penalty for drinking Big Gulps with a plastic straw is preparing to send an important message to two of the first states in the 2020 primary lineup. That would be an RSVP in the negative. After rushing to get on the ballot in Alabama, New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg is reportedly not interested in fighting for a piece of the action in Iowa and New Hampshire. But where will he focus his efforts? (NY Post)

Michael Bloomberg is taking a hard look at Nevada, South Carolina and 14 states that vote in March’s “Super Tuesday” — rather than Iowa and New Hampshire — as he prepares his late presidential bid, The Post has learned.

The move will give Bloomberg’s nascent campaign crucial additional weeks to get up to speed and compete against rival Democrats who have been on the ground for months, sources told The Post.

It also means the former three-term New York City mayor and billionaire would effectively write off competing in the first two Democratic contests, the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

This could be a combination of strategy (?) and logistical reality. For example, the filing deadline for the New Hampshire primary is this coming Friday. No matter how fast Bloomberg and his nascent campaign organization think they can move, that was going to be a heavy lift. He should still be able to get in on the action in Iowa, though, but he’s apparently written that one off entirely.

In both of those states, it might be for the best. The other two dozen or so candidates have practically been living in New Hampshire and Iowa since the race began in earnest. Retail politicking is notoriously important in both places, with voters expecting personal visits and a ton of pandering. All Bloomberg could realistically do at this late stage would be to dump tons of cash into television advertising, and it’s difficult to see him moving the needle very far that way.

There’s also a question of credibility and sticking to his promises. As you may recall, it was only one month ago that Bloomberg was reportedly saying that the only way he would seriously consider jumping into the race would be “if Biden’s fortunes suffer so much that he drops out before or during the early stages of the primary.” Well, Biden not only hasn’t dropped out but he’s still the frontrunner nationally, even if he’s now facing some stiff competition in Iowa and New Hampshire.

This plan to opt out of the first two races might not be as bad as Rudy Giuliani’s decision to focus on Florida in 2008, but it still looks risky. Then again, he does still have one distinct advantage that most of his prospective opponents lack… cash. If he plans to focus on South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states, that’s going to be a huge help. Super Tuesday includes California, Virginia, Texas and Massachusetts (among others), states that have broad and vastly expensive television markets. South Carolina isn’t cheap either.

While the rest of the field is scrambling to cover as many of those sixteen states as possible after exiting Iowa and New Hampshire, Mike will be able to afford to saturate the airwaves. Remember that he promised way back in February to spend half a billion dollars to “stop Trump” whether he was running himself or not. And with an estimated net worth of more than 50 billion, he can afford to do it.

There’s a flip side to that coin, however. While being able to spend his own money is nice, it also means that Bloomberg doesn’t have an established network of small-dollar donors. He doesn’t have much time to reach the high threshold of donors required to make the next two sets of debates. He also hasn’t even appeared in many polls up until this week, so that’s another bar that may be hard to reach.

But does Bloomberg even need to be on the debate stage to make a splash in this race? Possibly not, but I’m simply not seeing where there’s a big appetite among the Democratic base for this guy to ride to the rescue. If the Democrats want a moderate they’ve already got Biden. (And believe it or not, Uncle Joe is actually younger than Bloomberg.) As for the socialist wing of the base that’s currently propping up Warren and Sanders, Bloomberg should be a hard pass. This will very likely turn out to be an expensive flop for the former Mayor of New York. But he’ll still probably do better than the current Mayor did.