By Tank Murdoch
(TNS) Democrats have so demonized rich folks — especially billionaires — that it almost seems sacrilegious to say that two of them are running for the Garbage Party presidential nomination this year.
But unlike the Republican billionaire who ran (on his own money) and won in 2016, the two Democrats — Michael Bloomberg (R) and Tom Steyer (L) aren’t making much headway despite spending (combined) some $300-plus million or so.
And in fact, between the two of them, their spending accounts for nearly eight in 10 campaign dollars spent on ads thus far.
As NPR reports:
The candidates in the top 1% have accounted for about 78% of the ad spending in the presidential race so far, according to new numbers.
The two self-funding billionaires in the Democratic primary, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and activist business executive Tom Steyer, have spent the most by far — a combined $320 million, out of $409.8 million spent in the presidential contest up to Jan. 13.
That massive investment has boosted Bloomberg and Steyer in national and state polls, but not enough break into the quartet of front-runners: former Vice President Joe Biden; former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. …
The top four candidates are neck-and-neck in polls for the Iowa caucuses, now just over two weeks away on Feb. 3. Steyer has spent the most there, but Buttigieg’s fundraising prowess helped him make a major investment in the state. Through Monday, he’d spent $8 million on advertising in Iowa, including $5.9 million on broadcast television and $2 million on cable.
Mind you, both candidates jumped in late, but figure to spend their way to the top:
Steyer, a former hedge fund executive and environmentalist, put millions into ad blitzes in early states since he reversed his decision not to run in July. As a result, he’s the top spender in both Iowa (over $12.1 million) and New Hampshire (more than $15.9 million). The vast majority of his spending has been on broadcast TV, but notably he’s spent a chunk as well on digital advertising — $1.8 million in Iowa and $1.54 million in New Hampshire. It was enough to get him on the debate stage this week, but still not to break into the very top tier. Overall, Steyer has spent nearly $124 million nationally since July.
That’s been eclipsed by Bloomberg, who’s spent about $196.2 million just since he got in the race in late November. $163.8 million of that has been on broadcast TV, with a still substantial investment in digital ($22.1 million) and cable ($10.2 million). Bloomberg isn’t contesting early states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Instead, he’s pursuing a more nationalized strategy by targeting delegate-rich states, including Texas and California, that will hold primaries on Super Tuesday, March 3, and beyond. That’s a risky tack that has failed in the past, though it hasn’t been tried before by a candidate with virtually unlimited deep pockets.
There are still about a dozen Democrats vying for the nomination, but the field will begin to winnow early next month when the Iowa caucuses begin Feb. 3. The low-pollers — anyone not in the top four — will begin to drop out shortly thereafter.
Meanwhile, the other billionaire in the race, President Donald Trump, is doing quite well raising funds for his reelection. And his campaign has also been spending:
Trump’s official re-election committee Trump for President has already spent $14.75 million on ads, including around $4.4 million on broadcast TV and $9 million on digital ads. His joint fundraising committee has also spent another $26.6 million on digital ads alone. And he’s set to spend $10 million on a Super Bowl ad next month, the day before the Iowa caucuses.
Bloomberg has also committed to a Super Bowl ad.
But while Trump continues to poll higher than the top Dems and a lot higher than the two Dem billionaires running against him, it just goes to show that it’s not at all about how much money you bring to the fight, but about how well you can connect with voters.
Bloomberg and Steyer, obviously, aren’t accomplishing that — because, remember, the Democrat voting base has been conditioned to reject guys like them.
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