WASHINGTON (AP) — After pouring more than $1.2 billion of his personal fortune into presidential politics this election, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has little to show for it.
His only win during a short-lived Democratic bid for the White House was in the territory of American Samoa. And after pledging to spend “whatever it takes” to defeat President Donald Trump, he routed $110 million to Florida, Ohio and Texas — all states that President-elect Joe Biden lost.
Bloomberg, who built a media and financial services empire before turning to electoral politics, has long used his $55 billion in estimated wealth to play kingmaker, with no shortage of candidates and causes seeking favor.
Yet after dumping $1.1 billion into his campaign, he waited until September to follow through on his vow to spend big to unseat Trump. His investment was especially disappointing in Florida, a battleground state that is normally decided by razor-thin margins but that Trump won this year by 3.4 percentage points.
The showing could raise questions about Bloomberg’s ability to use his vast financial resources to sway politics in the future. Some Democrats are now questioning the mystique that has long shrouded Bloomberg’s political operation, which promotes itself as shrewd, dispassionate and data-driven when making decisions about how to invest in campaigns.
“He made a lot of noise about putting $100 million into Florida. We didn’t see any of that money until six weeks out,” said Alex Sink, the 2010 Democratic nominee for Florida governor who endorsed Bloomberg’s presidential bid. “Yes, he spent a lot. But it goes back to how and when we talk to our voters. It was too late, and the airwaves were already saturated.”
The 2020 campaign proved that money does not always translate into votes. Fundraising powerhouses like Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison in South Carolina were soundly defeated.
Bloomberg advisers say it’s unfair to blame him for not doing enough to help Biden in Florida. They note that no one else donated anywhere near as much as he did, which paid for voter mobilization programs and advertising. And Bloomberg wasn’t the only Democrat or group committing resources to the state, though he did receive an outsize share of the publicity.
“It would be hard to take anyone with a straight face who says Mike Bloomberg didn’t do enough in Florida, if that is seriously the contention,” said Kevin Sheekey, one of Bloomberg’s top political advisers. “Florida was always a state that we viewed as difficult for a Democrat to win against Donald Trump.”
Republicans and Democrats alike say that Biden’s poor performance among Latinos in three Democratic counties in South Florida contributed to his loss in the state. For months, Republicans ran blistering attacks against Biden and other Democrats, accusing them of embracing socialism. They appear to have resonated with the area’s sizable population of Cuban and Venezuelan voters.
“You saw Democratic groups try to sound the alarm,” said Cam Savage, a Republican strategist and adviser to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez, who ousted Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in the Nov. 3 election. “When you’re at a cockta…
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) November 14, 2020
“His only win during a short-lived Democratic bid for the White House was in the territory of American Samoa.”
Bloomberg's big spending struggles to sway election outcomes https://t.co/6FfAAXw4qC
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) November 14, 2020