‘I’m a believer in using data to inform decisions,’ Michael Bloomberg said in a statement as he ended his campaign. ‘After yesterday’s results, the delegate math has become virtually impossible – and a viable path to the nomination no longer exists.’
And like that, he’s gone. Perhaps the most extraordinary story of the 2020 campaign so far, Michael Bloomberg’s candidacy, has ended. He seemed to have it all: unlimited funds, vast amounts of data, all the political consultants money could buy. But he’s had to give in and endorse Joe Biden, accepting that the former vice president is a much more attractive candidate to voters.
Bloomberg has learnt the hard way that there are lies, damned lies, and the application of data in politics. Everyone presumed a man as well-resourced as Michael Bloomberg had the confidence to run for president because he had run the numbers. How then, can you explain his dismal Super Tuesday showing? After spending $500 million of his own money, the only territory Bloomberg secured was American Samoa.
Perhaps Bloomberg is guilty of asking the data the wrong questions. Did he ask ‘is there a way in which I’m a viable candidate for president?’ when he should have asked ‘I have $2 billion to spend beating Donald Trump: what’s the best way to use it?’
Imagine a situation where Bloomberg played this race like someone who just wanted to deny Bernie the nomination and wasn’t so married to the idea of being president himself. Even while running, couldn’t he have spread his bets and pushed Pete Buttigieg some money after Iowa or dished some cash to Amy Klobuchar after New Hampshire? Or what stopped him putting his thumb on the scales earlier and backing a candidate like Cory Booker? Surely people inside the Bloomberg camp are posing these questions too.
Who wants to be a billionaire? Yet again it’s hard not to be astounded by a plutocrat’s lack of imagination. You’re the ninth richest man in the world and the best thing you can think of trying to buy is the presidency? Elon Musk might be a cannabis-crazed douchebag but at least he makes secret tunnels and flamethrowers like a real supervillain. What’s more, Bloomberg didn’t even follow the ‘how to run for president as a billionaire’ playbook that Trump laid out so well in 2016, which involves pointing out that you, the candidate, ‘don’t have to do this’ and you aren’t ‘beholden to corporate interests’. Mike Bloomberg somehow decided to embody corporate interests. Perhaps his close ties to China made it impossible for him to pose as anything else.
Hindsight is 20-20, but the DNC’s decision to adjust the debate thresholds – letting Bloomberg in – might have made Joe Biden president. Then there’s the role of Elizabeth Warren who kicked Bloomberg in the ribs so hard at the start of his first debate that he never recovered.
Since Mike has decided to withdraw, he’ll surely be rueing the decision to cannibalize Bloomberg News for this woeful campaign. He may have come third in Texas, Tennessee, and Arkansas – but is that what the best part of a billion dollars gets? Bloomberg will say now that Biden is absolutely the right man to beat Trump. We know that isn’t true: the reason he launched his own campaign is because he had no confidence in Biden as a candidate. His data didn’t tell him that Biden could sweep the South, including Virginia and Texas.
Many pundits are expressing relief that money can’t buy an American election. I just pity the staffer whose job it is to write up the NDAs at Bloomberg HQ; suppressing the tales of his reaction to the torrid results. At least they’re paid well.