Political reformers often speak of the influence of money in politics, as if people banding together to support candidates with shared interests is somehow corrupting. Modern American political history is filled with failed self-funding candidates like New Jersey millionaire publisher, Steve Forbes, in 1996 or Texas businessman, H. Ross Perot, in 1992. This year, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joins the list of rich men who tried to buy the presidency. To date, the Mayor has spent an astonishing $248 million on television campaign advertisements. One has not been able to watch the NFL playoffs without seeing Blomberg’s face at least half a dozen times.
Bloomberg’s political advertisements portray him as an accomplished businessman, the successful mayor of New York City who kept crime under control, and a can-do go-getter capable of uniting America. Along the way, Bloomberg takes a swipe at President Trump. These are the campaign ads of a moderate, problem solving, Democrat perfect for the 1990s. Sadly for Bloomberg, the year is 2020 and the Democrat Party base isn’t interested in moderation.
Bloomberg is averaging about 7 percent of the Democrat Party vote according to the Real Clear Politics poll of polls. Fellow billionaire-for-whom-money-is-no-object, Tom Steyer, is near the bottom with an average of 2.4 percent. Despite chronic gaffs and flubs, Biden’s support remains steady with a 28.4 percent average. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders poll average has surged to 20.4 percent. Elizabeth Warren has dropped nearly a third from her late summer high to an average 14.8 percent.
In Biden, Sanders, and Warren, we see the main Democrat Party factions. Biden is drawing support from older Democrats who once supported Bill Clinton and African Americans who recall his service as Barrack Obama’s VP. Ironically, the 78-year-old Sanders is the candidate of the young, enthusiastic hard-left led by socialist firebrands Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Elizabeth Warren’s is a campaign of ideas, a liberal checklist of long sought-after policy goals from transgender rights to gun control to Medicare-for-all, the last of which she stole from Sanders. She is a lawyer, college professor, and former federal bureaucrat, the candidate of, by, and for liberal bi-coastal professionals. Journalists love Warren because they too are bi-coastal professionals. This week the New York Times, the flagship paper of the Democrat elite and ruling class, endorsed Warren. The Times also bizarrely endorsed Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, saying she was a moderate and perhaps hopping to kick off a drive for the first all-woman presidential ticket. And why not? Thanks to intersectional powerhouse Ilhan Omar (she checks no less than four boxes: black, Muslim, immigrant, female) the state of Minnesota will be in play this November. Besides, should Sanders or Warren win the nomination, there’s no way Warren would choose Sanders, or Sanders would choose Warren. During the last debate, Warren said Sanders told her a woman would never be president. When Sanders denied saying any such thing, Warren accused him of calling her a liar on national television. Sander’s legions of young, male supporters, the so-called Bernie-Bros, now hate Warren with the same intensity they once hated Hillary.
Biden leads the February 3rd Iowa Caucus by an average of 3.7 percent while Sanders leads the February 11th New Hampshire primary by an average of 1.3 percent. Bloomberg hardly registers in either poll sample. A Biden victory in Iowa would prolong his campaign and give him enough political energy to stay viable through to the southern primaries where African American voters dominate.
The two Democrat billionaires have failed to qualify for the debates. One more and we’ll have a definite trend. Perhaps money can’t buy the presidency. Instead, reformers should think about ways to fix both parties’ broken candidate selection process. Right now, the campaigns begin in Iowa and New Hampshire. These two small states, which are in no way indicative of the rest of America, have an outsized roll in the nomination process. Every four years candidates spend tens of millions of dollars trying to win Iowa and New Hampshire in order to make themselves the front runner and create an aura of inevitability. From there, the campaigns move to the South Carolina primary, the so-called firewall state where party establishments kill insurgent campaigns. From there, it’s on to the odious Super Tuesday, a mismatched jumble of a primary with states from all over the country. Very often many primaries occur long after candidates have dropped out and the race is all but over. This writer has not cast a vote in a meaningful primary since 2000 when he lived in Virginia.
Instead, why not group the smaller states into cohorts and hold separate primaries for big states, a California Primary, a Texas Primary, and so on? Or perhaps the parties could hold regional primaries, say for New England, the Mountain West, and the South. Because, right now, the current system is more likely than not to yield a ‘hung’ party where neither Biden, Warren, or Sanders has won enough delegates to get the nomination. That leaves the door open for a certain well-funded former candidate who still harbors presidential ambitions…