Why Bloomberg may turn unstoppable soon
Posted February 18, 2020 6:31 p.m. EST
CNN — In the next week, there will be two presidential debates: one Wednesday night in Las Vegas and the other a week from today in Charleston, South Carolina.
Those two gatherings could well be the best -- and maybe last? -- chance of all the 2020 Democrats not named "Michael Bloomberg" to stop the rolling ball of momentum that is the former New York City mayor's presidential bid.
Why? Because, well, Bloomberg has already spent several hundred million dollars on an everything-all-at-once campaign that includes massive investment in TV ads in states set to vote on Super Tuesday (March 3) and beyond. And because Bloomberg is worth nearly $62 billion, meaning he can continue that spending pace for, well, as long as he wants.
That should be concerning to every Democratic candidate, because even though Bloomberg wasn't on the ballot in Iowa or New Hampshire and won't be on the ballot in the Nevada caucus this weekend or South Carolina primary a week from this Saturday, he has propelled himself into the top tier in national polling on the race.
An NPR/PBS/Marist poll released Monday morning showed Bloomberg in second place with 19% -- behind only Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. According to the Real Clear Politics polling average, Bloomberg is now in third nationally -- and making up ground quickly behind former Vice President Joe Biden.
What that all means is that no one -- not Sanders, not former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, not anyone -- will be able to even remotely compete on the TV airwaves (or anywhere else) with Bloomberg starting at the beginning of next month.
If they want to slow down Bloomberg, the other Democrats need to do it between now and February 29. And the best chance any/all of the candidates have to do that will be when standing on stage right next to Bloomberg. This is the moment when Sanders or Biden or Buttigieg or Sens. Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar have to make voters say: "I've seen those Bloomberg ads but he's not much up close."
If Bloomberg walks away from the next two debates relatively unscathed, it's very difficult to see how anyone in the race will be able to stop him from securing a healthy store of delegates over the coming months.
While that doesn't guarantee -- by a long shot -- that he will be the nominee, it does mean he will have a very big say in who is.
The Point: The effectiveness of Bloomberg's massive spending has clearly caught his opponents somewhat by surprise. They'd better figure out his Achilles' heel -- and quick.