OPINION: Bloomberg's presidential campaign is proof that money can't buy elections



Michael Bloomberg in Tom's dire are flooding the airwaves with political ads as they seek to move into the top tier of candidates as the twenty twenty democratic primaries are set to begin every beim of reason magazine is here to discuss Eric what Americans tune in to watch the Superbowl next month they will be subjected to a sixty second ad from New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg Bloomberg of course is one of the two democratic billionaires running for president in twenty twenty and he's dropped an estimated ten million dollars to purchase and that sixty second slot during America's biggest sporting event but the two democratic billionaires that's Bloomberg and Tom Steiger are actually proving that money can't buy elections together they've spent well over two hundred million dollars so far and yet neither of them seems to be much closer to the White House hi folks I Merrick band with reason magazine thanks for joining us on this edition of American radio journal no guest for me this week instead we're taking a look at those two candidates Bloomberg inspire and the fact that they've spent as I said well over two hundred million dollars so far campaign ads and certainly many millions more tech com as voting does not even begin for another month in the democratic primary but even though that amount of money might not mean much to them the opportunity costs here are really quite staggering no other candidate in the field through the end of twenty nineteen had spent more than eighteen million dollars on ads that's according to data that political aggregated last week Bloomberg spent that much just in the first week that he was in the race and he's kept up spending right around twenty million dollars per week since he jumped in but despite the huge advertising blitz Bloomberg inspire are almost certainly wasting their money chasing political power well it's foolish to rule out any sort of electoral outcome in this reality where we've got Donald Trump as president right now voters have responded to both democratic billionaires so far with a a resounding mac there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of enthusiasm for either one of them and there seems to be little reason to think that that will change anytime in the next few months no matter how much money the two of them pour into the race there are actually two important lessons here I think first is that Bloomberg inspire seem to be on an inadvertent crusade to actually prove that progressive fears about the influence of money in politics are largely unfounded secondly the two billion or candidates are providing a real world lesson about opportunity costs bite setting fire to their huge campaign war chests I mean they've got the means to change the world they are certainly wealthier than you or I or pretty much anyone out there but getting involved with politics really is not the way to change the world Bloomberg has been spending close to thirty million dollars per week on TV ads and jumping into the race but all that cash hasn't really move the needle he's running a distant fifth in the real clear politics polling average right now with that somewhere around five percent little over five percent that's well behind more thrifty candidates like people to judge and Joe Biden who continue to lead he's unlikely to qualify for the next debate which is scheduled for January fourteenth in Iowa because Democratic National Committee rules require that candidates qualify via polling which Bloomberg has done but also by accumulating at least two hundred and twenty five thousand individual donors which he has not in some ways Bloomberg self financed at heavy campaign may not really care about the debates in fact in some ways you could argue that he might be better off by skipping the debates and saturating the airwaves without having to face any of his challengers in the flesh where he would probably be subjected to criticism over his wealth and his record of supporting stop and frisk policing in New York City along with a bunch of other things now spire has done marginally better at least in terms of qualifying for the debates he's been on the stage for the last three debates but he seems unlikely to make this month's contest in Iowa he's polling below one and a half percent in the real clear polling average and he doesn't have great numbers any of the early primary states not even in his home state of California where you would think voters or at least more familiar with him given how Bloomberg inspired struggled to gain traction it's a bit ironic to hear some of the democratic primary opponents repeatedly bemoaning the influence of money in politics center Elizabeth Warren in south bend mayor Pete Degesch got into a kerfuffle at the last debate over whose campaign was more corrupted by the influence of deep pocketed donors and the consensus view in the democratic primary field is that Congress ought to overturn the Supreme Court's twenty ten citizens United decision the decision that the court in which the court ruled that campaign contribution limits for political action committees place on constitutional limitations on free speech now it's certainly true that money can buy access and influence in the political process there's no doubt about that but when it comes to campaigns money is really only as good as the results that can produce Joe Biden has had well documented fundraising issues but he continues to be the Democrats front runner Bloomberg's spending more each week than British jazz has spent so far in his entire campaign but mayor Pete is the odds on favorite to win the first primary contest in Iowa and Bloomberg is running well back in the field in short the idea that billionaires can buy elections is kind of being the bunker right before our eyes once again and if they can't buy the election couldn't these guys probably do more by not running for office in the first place take stock here for example his entire campaign is built around a single idea he says the climate changes America's biggest challenge but also our greatest opportunity because it means we'll have a chance to create millions of good paying jobs across the country now you don't need to be president to create jobs and you don't have to agree with sire about climate change to see that there are certainly ways that he could make an impact without becoming president one thing you do need to create jobs for example is capital and Stiers clearly has plenty of money lying around but saw inclined a change will require more than reducing Americans access to energy it will require big ideas and innovative thinking things like carbon capture technology improved batteries drought resistant crops and so on those ideas and products will almost certainly be developed in the private sector by individuals trying to make a Buck not forced by government mandate and unlike most of us tire is in a position to identify and support the companies that are most likely to make a real difference in reducing the effects of climate change or helping people to cope with them but instead he's dropping eighty million two hundred million dollars so far in order to get his plaid tie into a few primary debates that few voters are going to watch and even fewer will remember the reason magazine I Merrick bank you can check out more of our coverage of the democratic primary field of the next debate in Iowa and of all of the developments that we will see in twenty twenty as the race for the White House heats up find all of that it reason dot com and I'll be back here next week on another edition of American radio

Coming up next