Michael Bloomberg enters the 2020 race

Michael Bloomberg enters the 2020 race

Michael Bloomberg officially announced his late-entry Democratic presidential bid. He has the profile and the resources–but history isn’t in his favor.

In a statement, 77-year-old Billionaire, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially announced he is standing to be the Democratic Party presidential nomine, saying he was standing “to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America”. “The stakes could not be higher. We must win this election,” Mr Bloomberg wrote.

On the surface, evidence suggests he could really make a splash in the race. According to BBC, he enters the race after months of debate over wealth inequality in the US, with Mr Sanders and Ms Warren announcing plans for steep tax rises for billionaires. Unveiling his tax proposals in September, Mr Sanders said: “Billionaires should not exist.”President Trump taunted Mr Bloomberg earlier in November, saying there was “nobody I’d rather run against than little Michael”.

There are four candidates at or near the top of early state and national primary polls–Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg–yet thus far none of them is pulling clear of the pack.

Biden has failed to turn his high name recognition and ties to still-popular former President Barack Obama into electoral and fund-raising dominance, while his age is viewed as a weakness by many.

Warren and Sanders face questions about how their populist agenda will play in heartland America, and Sanders has age (and health) issues of his own. 

Buttigieg is young, and a fresh face on the scene, yet he has little electoral experience and needs to show he can appeal to the minority voters who make up a large portion of the Democratic primary electorate.

Furthermore, surveys show the race is still wide open. A recent New York Times/Siena College poll had “don’t know” ahead of all the Democratic choices in four of six presidential battleground states.

Meanwhile, an Economist/YouGov poll found 22% of respondents wishing they had “more choices” than the Democrats currently running.

Nevertheless, while Bloomberg has a high public profile and virtually unlimited resources, there are reasons to believe that a presidential bid would fall flat. 

Beyond Trump, businesspersons fare poorly in politics

Born in Massachusetts, Michael Bloomberg has apparently decided that there is room in the Democratic race for a novice candidate with a high public profile and large amounts of financial resources to have a shot at winning the nomination, yet–despite the success of President Donald Trump in 2016–history says otherwise. 

Current New York mayor, Bill De Blasio, has already tried his hand during the current campaign and flopped spectacularly. Another self-made businessman, John Delaney, has been campaigning in Iowa for more than two years with nothing to show for it.

Furthermore, Bloomberg, the eighth richest American with a net-worth of $54.4bn (£42bn), according to Forbes, is not going to qualify for the forthcoming Democratic primary debate. He may not qualify for any, given the current criteria that requires a minimum number of small donations, and reports are that Bloomberg won’t be doing any fund-raising.

Yet perhaps the main reason why a majority of Democrats would be unlikely to support a Bloomberg bid is that they would surely be wary of a business friendly, fiscally conservative candidate whose political positions include opposition to government-run health insurance and legalized marijuana, and support for aggressive policing measures. In fact, it has been speculated that Bloomberg would actually enter the race to try to wrestle a party that he sees drifting dangerous leftward back to the pro-business center.

Bloomberg would certainly not be your conventional Democratic nominee, yet he could well shake up the race. By allocating resources to weaken Warren or Sanders, whose policies he strongly opposes, he could hinder their chances–or even inadvertently help them by stripping moderate support away from Biden or Buttigieg. Another very real possibility, however, is that Bloomberg doesn’t get any traction and his campaign, while making some pollsters and campaign advisors a bit wealthier, doesn’t accomplish much else. 

According to Vox, Micheal Bloomberg is a champion of gun control and addressing climate change, but he has criticized Medicare-for-all as unaffordable and said Warren’s proposed wealth tax is likely unconstitutional. He has expressed optimism about the Green New Deal and said all of the concepts in it deserve consideration, but warned that it should not put forth “things that are pie in the sky.” He is viewed as a more Wall Street-friendly, centrist candidate.

The probability that Michael Bloomberg could win his party’s presidential nomination would seem slim for now, yet it is worth remembering–four years ago no one was giving another rich New Yorker much of a chance to win the Republican nomination. 


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Paul Imison
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