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Foss: Little appetite for Bloomberg presidential run

Foss: Little appetite for Bloomberg presidential run

Foss: Little appetite for Bloomberg presidential run
Michael Bloomberg at the Hudson River Park Gala on Oct. 17, 2019, in New York.
Photographer: KRISTA SCHLUETER/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Everyone needs a hobby. 

Perhaps that's why former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is weighing a presidential run: He's bored and looking for something to occupy his time. And he has a lot of money -- he is a billionaire, after all -- so he can pursue expensive hobbies. 

If there's any other reason for Bloomberg to throw his hat into the ring, it escapes me. 

Bloomberg might think he can win the Democratic nomination for president, but nobody else does. 

If he runs, he'll simply be the latest politician from New York to learn just how little appetite the public has for his candidacy. 

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio already proved a flop with voters. Now Bloomberg appears poised to join them on the scrap heap of failed 2020 presidential candidates. 

To win the Democratic nomination for president, you need to be able to get people who don't live on Manhattan's Upper East Side or work on Wall Street to vote for you. 

Is there any reason to believe Bloomberg can do this? 

Reports indicate that the former mayor's plan is to skip early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and focus on the states that vote on Super Tuesday, a group that includes California, Texas and North Carolina. He hopes to appeal to moderate Democrats -- people who believe Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are too liberal. 

Even among moderate Democrats, a Bloomberg campaign will be a tough sell. 

Bloomberg simply isn't very popular with Democrats. 

He was polling around 2 or 3 percent in national primary polls before announcing that he wouldn't run for president last March. 

He's also an ex-Republican, a distinction that will likely be viewed with suspicion by rank-and-file Democratic voters. Outside New York City, he might best be known for trying (and failing) to ban big sodas and other sugary beverages, if he's known for anything at all, other than being rich. 

In an article titled "How Seriously Should We Take Michael Bloomberg's Potential 2020 Run?" the news website FiveThirtyEight considered the former mayor's standing with Democrat voters. 

The polls suggest that 62 percent of Democrats "knew enough about Bloomberg to form an opinion (which was pretty high), but his net favorability (favorable rating minus unfavorabile rating) was only +11 (which was pretty low)," the article explained, adding "for as well-known as he is, we would have expected him to be much better-liked." 

Bloomberg does have a lot of money, as previously mentioned, and he appears willing to spend it. 

He announced a $100 million digital ad campaign attacking President Donald Trump, making him, as the New York Times observed, "the single biggest spender in the presidential race," even though he has yet to formally declare that he's running. 

The former mayor clearly believes he can beat Trump. 

But there's little reason for anyone else to think so. 

Reach Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper's.        

 

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