Bloomberg’s plan isn’t just based on his certainty that Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are too left-wing to win a general election. It’s also predicated on a certain Biden Hypothesis. That hypothesis goes something like this: Despite his standing in national polls, Biden is a weak and possibly doomed front-runner. His fundraising woes—in the last quarter, he raised less than Sanders or Pete Buttigieg—are symptoms of a deeper crisis: an inability to inspire crowds, or convincingly win debates, or generate sufficient enthusiasm to make it through a long primary contest.
If Biden sweeps most of the early states on his way to a delegate majority, he will pretty much explode this theory. But as of February 1, polling averages suggest that Biden could lose Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, in which case, by March, a self-described socialist will likely be the clear front-runner in a party whose torchbearers don’t like that sort of thing. In this plausible future, moderate establishment Democrats will seek out the one smart, dependable, and authoritative leader who already has a massive national operation.
And who will be there, with open arms and an open wallet, backed by a $50 billion fortune, and ready to consolidate the moderate vote within the Democratic primary? Mr. Unprecedented.
Read: The real power of Bloomberg’s money
2. It’s an ego trip that will accidentally hand the Democratic primary to Sanders.
Bloomberg might think he’s building a catastrophic-insurance plan for establishment Democrats. But what if he’s actually killing the patient?
Bloomberg is flooding Super Tuesday states with advertisements explicitly—and often effectively—designed to appeal to Biden’s constituency of older, moderate voters while offering no direct critique of Sanders. Little surprise, then, that his campaign now seems to be taking support from Biden. In fact, data from Quinnipiac polling shows that most of Bloomberg’s support would otherwise go to Biden.
Another unintended consequence of Bloomberg’s ad blitz is that he’s driving up the price of 30-second spots for other candidates, or locking them out of TV entirely. Because Sanders has more money than any other viable non-Bloomberg candidate, ad inflation benefits him relative to Biden.
In the footrace between Biden and Sanders, then, Bloomberg has effectively screamed “I’m here to help!” before leaping onto Biden’s back, slowing the front-runner’s already feeble momentum, even as Sanders continues to race forward without impediment. If the senator from Vermont ekes out a primary victory over a divided and disjointed moderate coalition, the establishment could well fault Bloomberg for helping to nominate a socialist.
3. It’s a public-relations disaster for a Democratic Party trying to keep leftists and moderates in harmony.
The Democratic National Committee has insisted that to qualify for its official debates, candidates must surpass a donor threshold. Since Bloomberg isn’t accepting donations, those rules have so far barred him from the debate stage.