Democratic primary latecomer Mike Bloomberg’s campaign has Very Serious Concerns about there being too many moderates in the race, and they think the solution is for those lagging behind to drop out in order to consolidate support behind one candidate (read: Mike Bloomberg) to defeat frontrunner Bernie Sanders. That’s a bold claim from the campaign of a guy who has so far gotten *checks notes* 0 actual votes.
I wish Bloomberg would follow his own advice—not because I’m hoping for a moderate to beat Bernie Sanders, mind you, but because Bloomberg’s desire to bully opponents out of the race as he buys his way in is seriously disturbing, as is his candidacy in general. I’m also not a fan of how afraid he seems to be of Bernie Sanders just for … actually being unapologetically to the left, or of how the narcissistic tone of his campaign’s internal memo about the situation (as reported by Axios) sounds like exactly what you’d expect of a billionaire who feels entitled to political positions.
You have $500 in the bank, and you spend $2.75 on a subway swipe in the crumbling MTA.
A billionaire has $64 billion in the bank, and spends $350,000,000 on TV ads bragging about how good of a mayor they were.
You’ve spent more of your wealth than the billionaire has.
— Jack Califano (@jackcalifano) February 16, 2020
Of course, you’d expect a candidate’s team to be as positive about their chances as possible in internal communications, but they seem awfully confident about emerging as the “clear #2 in the race based on vote share” despite, again, not having received a single vote so far. It’s true that Bloomberg is currently polling at a level that he could come away from upcoming contests—including the many states voting on “Super Tuesday” on March 3—in second place, but he’s also not really in the campaign yet.
His first debate appearance will be tonight, where he’s going to have a lot to answer for, and his first actual contest is in Nevada this Saturday, and a lot could change in that time. It’s easy to buy a bunch of ads to boost yourself from the sidelines. Actually being a candidate? … Not so much—especially when Elizabeth Warren, at the very least, is coming for you.
His campaign is also making the assumption that voters currently backing candidates like Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, or Amy Klobuchar would be Bloomberg supporters if their current top candidate were to drop out, but that’s not necessarily true, either. Not only is there the possibility that they would prefer Sanders to Bloomberg (a scenario Bloomberg’s team likely can’t imagine because they view Sanders as a dangerous radical who can’t possibly appeal to a wide range of people), but if only one or two of those candidates were to drop out, their supporters might choose … one of the others, rather than Bloomberg.
I’m also done, in general, with the idea that moderate is inherently better to win the general election. Republicans aren’t moderate, and that never stops them. Even if your plan to beat Donald Trump is to appeal to the elusive “swing voter,” assuming that these swing voters switch things up because they’re just so evenly in the middle that they just tip with the wind is misguided. It’s just as likely that they don’t stick to a political “side” because they don’t want the status quo, which is what moderate is code for.
Team Bloomberg is right, though. If there’s one thing this race doesn’t need, it’s more moderates. We’ve already got Joe Biden promising that he can work with Congressional Republicans who stonewalled the last White House administration he was part of so hard that they wouldn’t even consider a Supreme Court nominee, throwing Biden’s own words in his face disingenuously. We’ve already got Pete Buttigieg using conservative talking points like “healthcare choice” to score points with … the easily confused, I guess? (John Oliver expertly articulated, as usual, why that “choice” is an illusion on Last Week Tonight.)
So, I guess I agree with Bloomberg’s team that the moderates with “no path to appreciably collecting delegates on Super Tuesday (and beyond)” unless their opponents drop out should start exiting the race. I just think … why not lead by example, Mike?
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