In laying the groundwork for a presidential run, Michael Bloomberg will have to do something he rarely does: ignore the data.
At his company, ideas — even stories — aren’t greenlit without data to support them.
If Bloomberg does run, he’ll be flying in the face of the internal polling his own team has done, which shows there isn’t a clear path for victory.
The little public data we have on Bloomberg doesn’t look promising. In March, for example, Bloomberg polled at just 2% nationally among potential Democratic primary voters. He had a favorable rating of 27% compared to an unfavorable rating of 38% among likely Iowa caucus-goers. That same month, he announced he wouldn’t run for the nomination.
More recently, an October 2019 Fox News poll asked a slightly different question and discovered that 6% of Democratic primary voters said they would definitely vote for Bloomberg in a Democratic primary, while 32% said they would never vote for him.
Given his rhetoric that Democrats must defeat Trump at all costs, why would Bloomberg go after former Vice President Joe Biden’s chance of being nominated? Biden, after all, polls the best against Trump in key swing states.
It’s because Bloomberg has watched the former Vice President fade in Iowa and doesn’t think Biden has a shot. Biden’s numbers have been cut in half over the last year in polling of likely Iowa caucusgoers, and he was down to just 15% in a recent Quinnipiac University poll.
Bloomberg and his team are undeterred by the polling data they’ve conducted internally, which isn’t strong, said a Bloomberg adviser who was providing context on the strategy.
“It’s not strong, but it’s not zero either,” the adviser said.
The adviser said the thinking inside the Bloomberg camp is that current polls don’t account for moderates who will turn out in greater numbers for a candidate they’re excited about, the adviser said.
“He’s a data guy so he’s good at knowing what data is real and what data is not real,” the adviser said.
Indeed, Bloomberg may have a problem appealing to two of Biden’s main constituencies: white voters without a college degree and nonwhite voters. An October 2019 Fox News poll found that a mere 8% of whites without a college degree and 7% of nonwhite voters would definitely vote for Bloomberg in a Democratic primary.
The billionaire equation
A possible Bloomberg run would fuel the ongoing conversation around income inequality and whether billionaires are buying elections — themes that are central to the campaigns of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Fellow billionaire Tom Steyer has spent millions of dollars on television ads and, while he has eked out debate stage appearances, is barely registering in the polls.
Shortly after the Bloomberg news broke, both Warren and Sanders taunted him on Twitter.
Bloomberg didn’t respond on Twitter Thursday night, but has taken shots at Warren in the past.
In August, Bloomberg joked he had run into Warren at a gun safety forum in Iowa where he said he reminded her that if his company hadn’t been successful, “We wouldn’t be here today, so enough with this stuff.”
Bloomberg is not the only billionaire criticizing Warren’s rhetoric and her policies. There’s a growing number of billionaires and Wall Street executives taking shots at Warren publicly. The latest voice was JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon this week who said Warren “vilifies successful people.”
Hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman claimed Warren is “s—-ing on” the ‘f—ing American dream.”
Neither Dimon or Cooperman are sympathetic characters. And the billionaires who are bashing Warren may bolster her standing. Each time one of them takes a shot at her, she tweets about it.
After Dimon’s attack, Warren shot back: “The fact that they’ve reacted so strongly — so angrily! — to being asked to chip in more tells you all that you need to know. The system is working great for the wealthy and well-connected, and Jamie Dimon doesn’t want that to change. I’m going to fight to make sure it works for everyone.”
And when Cooperman teared up while discussing her, she said: “One thing I know he cares about—his fortune. He’s a shareholder in Navient, a student loan company that has cheated borrowers and used abusive, misleading tactics.”
“How stupid are these guys,” said one big Democrat donor before the Bloomberg news broke. “She can fundraise off every one of these comments.”