As Maya Angelou famously wrote, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
Well, Michael Bloomberg showed us his true self in South Carolina last night, when he inexplicably admitted to buying more than 20 Democratic seats in the 2018 midterms. In his words: “All of the new Democrats that came in put [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi in charge and gave Congress the ability to control this president. I bought—I uh, got them.”
Was it a gaffe? You betcha, especially given that the Democratic Party vows to roll back “the outsized influence of billionaires.” It’s also his truth, and he’s at it again.
Bloomberg recently topped $500 million in campaign advertising—more than twice that of President Trump and the other Democratic candidates combined. Bloomberg is spending nearly $6 million on ads per day.
What was that about billionaires’ “outsized influence”? But the real billion-dollar question is this: Will it work?
And public opinion suggests not—a resounding “NO.” According to most recent national polling, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) remains the Democratic frontrunner, garnering 26 percent of the vote. Bloomberg, meanwhile, is tied with Joe Biden in a distant second place (15 percent). In South Carolina, he won’t even be on the ballot.
It doesn’t help that one-third of Democrats now consider Bloomberg the most “sexist” candidate on the Democratic side. Not even $1 billion, which Bloomberg plans to spend this year, can erase that perception. Money alone can’t buy Bloomberg first place in the polls within the #MeToo-obsessed Democratic Party.
Therein lies a cold, hard truth: There is no amount of money that will convince a voter to vote for someone they don’t want to vote for.
Bloomberg is hardly the first big spender to waste his money, and he won’t be the last. Lest we forget 2016, when Jeb Bush relied on the Washington establishment to bankroll his presidential campaign, only to flush $130 million down a Florida toilet. Or just ask Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney or Marco Rubio, who round out the largest super PACs in history. They all met the same fate: Defeat.
Meanwhile, President Trump won the White House after being outspent by the Clinton machine.
Why? Because the American people supported him.
Money doesn’t buy results; ideas do. Coming up with a winning idea and promoting it to the masses is the recipe for success. Of course, you need money to spread that idea via advertising, but money itself is less important than authenticity.
In that regard, Bloomberg should worry most about Sanders, who oversees a fraction of Bloomberg’s budget but has given left-wing Americans an idea they can embrace. However flawed Sanders-style socialism may be (and, boy, it is deeply flawed), many liberal Democrats believe in that idea and its potential to take down President Trump.
Will it work? No. But those Democrats believe in Sanders’ authenticity, which Bloomberg and his badly scripted jokes simply cannot buy.
And that is the beauty of America’s democratic process: We can all vote for the candidate of our choosing, and the candidate who inspires the most support will win. The power is ours. The right candidate with the right message—the authentic message, an American message—will prevail in 2020.
That’s why President Trump isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And that’s why Michael Bloomberg is going nowhere fast.
Dan Backer is a veteran campaign counsel, having served more than 100 candidates and PACs, including two of the largest pro-Trump super PACs. He is the founding attorney of political.law PLLC, a campaign finance and political law firm in Alexandria, Virginia.