The former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has officially signed the paperwork to be a candidate in the Alabama Democratic presidential primary. Although this does not signify a definite intent to run, it amounts to far more than just dipping a toe in the water. This move has, however, created enormous shockwaves through the primary field, and if he goes ahead, could change everything we thought we knew about the final results.
Bloomberg is the proverbial fly in the ointment, the wrench in the works of Democratic hopefuls. His indication of interest is going to reset all the odds and make the contest open to far more possibilities than previously suspected.
Odds In Disarray
column has been bringing you the betting odds on candidates and elections since the contest began; the trajectory of candidates – both top tier and outlier – has been steady and fairly predictable. Not anymore. Bloomberg entered the odds with a vengeance heading straight for the fifth spot at ten to one, beating out all comers except for Warren, Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg. According to bookmakers, he is presently a 16 to one longshot to take the presidency.
Yet this is just the first day. What havoc can he wreak if he officially declares?
Here’s the rub: Bloomberg is considered a moderate, along the same lines as Biden and Buttigieg; he could easily pull some support (and donations) from the pair’s traditional backers. But he also has major name recognition and a track record of getting policies implemented – albeit on a smaller scale. This proven record could see him leech support from the more progressive candidates who promise a lot but have done very little of actual substance in their careers.
Splitting the Vote
Democrat hopefuls will be spending the morning over pocket calculators attempting to determine whether a Bloomberg bid will help or hinder their particular campaigns. Will he leech just enough form other candidates to give them a clear shot? Will they have to position themselves in direct opposition to the newcomer? Is it worth waiting until he has metaphorically slain some of the party’s big beasts?
The reality is that if Bloomberg enters the race fully, all bets are off. He will take support from every camp and create a fresh battlefield. Should he manage to pierce the top tier, candidates who have been sitting in third and fourth positions will find themselves jostling for at the very least a VP pick, one short step (or error) away from the top job.
The Bloomberg Strategy
As a well-known gun control advocate, Bloomberg has the right credentials to appeal to at least half of registered Democratic Party voters. If he were to moderate his stance to just increasing background checks, he might well get support from many gun-owning Democrats, too.
Skipping the initial debates was a wise move. He didn’t have to face the other candidates when interest in the debates was at an all-time high; now that interest is waning, he has a chance to carve his own path to the upper echelons.
But he still has to carve out a unique niche that will appeal to not just Democrat voters, but to the country as a whole. His first position will likely be to sell the idea that he is the only candidate capable of beating President Trump. This will play well with those who intend to vote Democrat regardless of the candidate, yet it won’t help in the Heartlands.
From Blue to Red?
Author Victor Davis Hanson explained how Bloomberg’s gradual shift to the left would not be much of a help in winning states that went full red in 2016. He said:
“When you look at the issues that Bloomberg has advocated — restrictions on the Second Amendment or ‘nanny-state’ intrusiveness into everything from plastic straws to super-sized drinks, climate change, open borders, sort of traditional engagement with China — that’s not the issues that won Donald Trump those swing states… So, I don’t quite see the logic.”
Bloomberg won two terms as Mayor as a Republican and a further term as an Independent. That he is now a full-blown Democrat is no big secret. He will almost certainly leech votes from existing candidates, but unless he can make an appeal to Americans on job security, border security, law and order, and protecting the economy, he may just be another interesting blip in the electoral calculus.
Read more from Mark Angelides.