In 2016, Donald Trump proved that money won’t buy you the Republican nomination. In 2020, his likely challengers are proving that not only can you buy the Democrat nomination, but it’s the best way.
Michael Bloomberg is making headlines for spending $300 million on advertising to buy third place. That doesn’t include the $10,000 spent on sushi, $250,000 on furniture, and six figure staffer salaries. With a $61 billion net worth, the billionaire just decided to buy the primaries. And his buying spree is working.
The Dems claim to hate billionaires, but two of them successfully bought into the race, Bloomberg and Steyer, while completely lacking the populist appeal that propelled Trump to the top. The Bloomberg-Steyer spending sprees have set off a dieback in the Dem 2020 race where only those candidates with lots of cash can even compete. Warren’s campaign is crumbling along with her financial prospects.
Steyer is cutting off Biden at the knees in South Carolina and Bloomberg will probably finish him on Super Tuesday. That will leave Buttigieg and Sanders as the only non-billionaires with a real shot.
What makes a socialist from Vermont and the failed mayor of a midwestern city competitive?
Money. Lots and lots of money.
Bernie Sanders raised $25 million in January. Buttigieg put together almost $3 million after Iowa.
While Bernie fulminates about the rich, he’s in second place and rising because he has so much more money to spend than his opponents, including Biden, do. That is the real secret of his success.
The socialist outspent his rivals by $15 million. He blew through $50 million in the final months of the year to buy the surge that put him over the top. In January, Bernie spent $8 million on ads, Buttigieg spent $6.5 million, Warren $5.4 million, while Biden was down to $2.4 million. Spending money doesn’t ensure results, but it certainly helps. Buttigieg’s “surprise” was really spending a lot of money.
Bloomberg and Bernie are both elderly New Yorkers with unpleasant personalities and a lot of cash. The distinction between buying an election with your own money or grassroots fundraising is virtue signaling. What does matter is that the 2020 nomination is for sale to those with the money to buy.
Enough money can make otherwise non-viable candidates like Bernie and Bloomy into ‘contendahs’.
Bernie’s fans will argue that his money comes from “small donors”. But what that leaves out is that the small donors are privileged lefties with lots of money to throw at elections. It was enough to buy Iowa, but the caucus results also showed that Bernie has no crossover appeal and isn’t boosting turnout.
Both Bernie and Buttigieg benefit from the same kind of money machine printed by an enthusiastic fan base. And the fan base sees the two men, less as viable presidential candidates, and more as a means of mainstreaming a larger campaign that they care about even more than winning an election. Bernie’s fans would trade losing the 2020 election for a takeover of the Democrats. That’s always the agenda.
And much of Buttigieg’s cash flow has come from gay donors who care less about him winning than about his presence on a national stage. Unlike the donors of the other 2020 candidates, who fold when their candidate stops being viable, the money machines funding Sanders and Buttigieg will never stop.
Much like Bloomberg and Steyer’s cash machines.
Bloomberg’s $61 billion fortune is formidable, but so is the net worth of Bernie and Buttigieg’s bases.
Biden’s donors have always been shaky. They’re investors, looking to buy influence, and aren’t going to sink good money after bad. They’re not going to keep spending money because they want to see Joe kissing little girls on the lips in Florida, groping matrons in Minnesota, or slurring speeches in South Carolina. Biden’s only real shot was sealing the deal out of the gate. And now he’s in trouble.
In the final quarter of the years, Sanders and Buttigieg both outraised Biden. Warren nearly did.
Where Trump had underspent his primary rivals, his prospective opponents are outspending them. And that’s good news for Trump and bad news for the Democrats who are going to be fighting a populist who got to the White House by beating money machines with another money machine candidate.
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