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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Bloomberg's Parallel Universe of Money

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, has begun.

Kathleen Ronayne and Andrew DeMillo at AP:
Bloomberg is running, but he’s on his own track, essentially creating a parallel race to the nomination with no precedent. While his competitors are hunkered down in the four states with the earliest primaries, Bloomberg is almost everywhere else — a Minnesota farm, a Utah co-working space, an office opening in Maine. He’s staked his hopes on states like Texas, California and Arkansas that vote on March 3, aiming to disrupt the Democratic primary right around the time it’s typically settling on a front-runner. Or, should Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, be that front-runner, Bloomberg could be a backstop to Democrats still looking for a moderate choice.
Skipping the early voting states and banking on success in later delegate-rich contests has never been done successfully. But no candidate has ever brought the financial firepower that Bloomberg can — he is worth an estimated $60 billion and has already spent more than $200 million building a campaign in more than two dozen states, taking him well past Super Tuesday.

 Alexi McCammond, and Stef W. Kight at Axios:
  • He’s blowing through cash to create a parallel (or bigger) unofficial, uncoordinated party infrastructure in case the DNC can’t help the eventual Democratic nominee enough in states that should be competitive with Trump.
  • With 2,100 paid staff, Bloomberg has three times as many as Trump, five times as many as Joe Biden and more than twice as many as Elizabeth Warren, according to data the campaigns provided to Axios.
  • He pays his staff more than any other 2020 Democrat's campaign and offers housing if they have to move to New York City, according to a campaign official.
  • What they're saying: "He’s building his own infrastructure, he has been able to invest in the tech and data to really build his own operation," said a Bloomberg campaign aide. "If you look at what happened in Iowa, it’s a good problem for us to have that we are self-reliant."
  • By the numbers: In just over a month, Bloomberg spent more than the top 2020 contenders spent for the whole final quarter of 2019 combined, according to Federal Election Commission data. He also outspent the entire RNC and DNC.
  • He's locked down big names in Democratic politics, many of whom were crucial in Barack Obama's election.
  • Since January, Bloomberg has spent more on Facebook ads than Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Warren combined.
  • Trump is the king of Facebook ads, but Bloomberg has spent $5.7 million more than the president's campaign in the past month.
  • Stories about Bloomberg have remained in the top 5 for social media interactions for the past few weeks, according to the Axios-Newswhip 2020 Attention Tracker.
  • But he doesn't get nearly the online attention that Biden, Sanders and Warren have long enjoyed — a metric that is often correlated to enthusiasm for a candidate.

Resembling fund-raisers in every aspect but one, Mr. Bloomberg’s events are organized under the auspices of a division of the campaign known as the Committee for Mike, a unit that closely resembles the structure of a traditional fund-raising operation — except that it does not actually solicit donations.
Unveiled last month, the Committee for Mike was described by the campaign as a network of influencers committed to Mr. Bloomberg’s candidacy. Its staff members have asked supporters to speak up for Mr. Bloomberg on social media and in personal conversations with their friends and colleagues, especially those who may reside in key primary states and general-election battlegrounds. Among the people managing the operation are former top fund-raisers for Senators Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
...
To supporters of other campaigns, this branch of the Bloomberg operation appears to have another effect. By pursuing contributors and asking them to get involved in his candidacy — without actually donating money to him — Mr. Bloomberg could have the effect of dampening fund-raising for opponents who cannot underwrite their campaigns with personal wealth.
...
The approach comes straight out of Mr. Bloomberg’s re-election playbook of 2005, when his team locked down the biggest Democratic donors in New York City by bringing them onto his mayoral campaign as blue-chip endorsers
. As he is doing now, he was financing his own campaign. But their support helped wipe some of the most important Democratic financiers from the contributors’ list of his donations-dependent Democratic challenger, Fernando Ferrer.