Bloomberg for President? How Much Catching-up Does He Have to Do?

Nov 25, 2019

Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his desire to run for President Sunday.
Credit mikebloomberg.com

A SUNY Cortland Political Science professor sees Michael Bloomberg’s quest for the Democratic presidential nomination as a long shot.  Bob Spitzer says the former New York City Mayor faces an uphill battle because of his late entry into the race, and a strategy to skip the early primaries. 


He says the records of candidates having any success with that plan is basically zero.

“If you try to bypass the early primary states, those are the proving grounds.  Those are the ones that transform a field of 15-20 candidates into a field of 3, 4 or 5 candidates.  And if you’re not a part of that early process, historically the nomination is just beyond reach.”

Bloomberg has indicated he plans to spend his own fortune after those primaries to enter the process.   Spitzer says money certainly matters in politics, but maybe not in this case.

“There is an important element of retail politics that still goes on in those early primary states, where voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina expect to see you on the ground, expect you to speak to people, shake hands.  And it’s more than just a blitz of TV advertising to win the Democratic nomination.”

Spitzer says the other candidates are clearly not welcoming Bloomberg’s entry into the race…or his return to the Democratic Party.  He switched his party registration from Democrat to Republican to run for New York City Mayor in 2001.  Bloomberg was criticized during his tenure for strongly supporting the police department’s stop and frisk policy, which has since been declared unconstitutional.

POSSIBLE PERCEPTION PROBLEMS

Spitzer adds, the former NYC Mayor might carry other negative connotations to a lot of middle class and poorer voters.

" ... some people view him as candidate democratic version of Donald Trump. He's this wealthy business man who suddenly decides he thinks he can enter the political fray. Now, unlike Trump, Bloomberg has served in elective office. He was Mayor of New York City for three terms."
 

He also might not seem like much of an alternative given the current size of the field of candidates.

"The constituancy that you're playing to is the liberal Democratic base. It's hard to see how Bloomberg can leverage his way into the good graces of significant numbers of Democratic voters given the numerous democratic candidates that are already in the field," Spitzer added.

Bloomberg announced his candidacy Sunday, accompanied by a quick $35 million ad blitz to get some of his views and positions in front of voters before any on-the-ground campaigning.   The 77-year-old says his main motivations are to defeat Donald Trump and to rebuild America.