If Bernie Sanders ends up the Democratic nominee, we will probably have Michael Bloomberg to thank. Bloomberg’s plan to buy his way into the Democratic primary and largely by-pass the vetting process is backfiring. While he’s surging, he’s not surging enough. Instead, he’s just splitting the moderate vote, giving Sanders the clearest path to a plurality of delegates.
Bloomberg may have always planned on going to a brokered convention and positioning himself as the savior of the Democratic party. He may see himself as the consensus candidate that Democrats who don’t like Sanders will support. That’s not how Democrats think. His positions on stop-and-frisk, redlining, transgender rights and his massive financial support for Republican candidates as recently as 2018 make him unacceptable to many Democrats. In their minds, he’s not trustworthy and little more than a charlatan.
Sanders’ supporters, in particular, will never support Bloomberg, or any candidate, for that matter, if their candidate enters the convention with a plurality of delegates. They’re aggrieved voters who constantly feel abused by the process. They will consider Sanders’ nomination stolen if it goes to another candidate despite his advantage. In November, they’ll either stay home or vote third party, giving Trump a huge advantage.
If Bloomberg’s priority is really defeating Trump, he should expand the massive infrastructure he’s building in swing states and continue running ads that pummel Trump. And he should drop out of the race. The moderates have a better chance of coalescing around one of the candidates who was in place before he jumped into the race. Now, he’s just playing the role of spoiler.
The debate on Wednesday night re-energized the non-Bloomberg candidates, especially Elizabeth Warren. She took the lead in attacking the former New York mayor and turned it into a fundraising bonanza. Bloomberg’s call for other Democrats to drop out to give him a clear shot at Sanders has led the rest of the field to call on Bloomberg to get out.
Bloomberg is not uniting moderate Democrats. He’s further dividing them. The two biggest beneficiaries of his candidacy will be, first, Bernie Sanders and then Donald Trump. I doubt he’ll ever end up the consensus candidate he hoped to be and if he does end up with the nomination, it won’t because of a consensus. It will be because of his money.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >