In Iowa and New Hampshire, the first states in the presidential nomination process, candidates brave freezing temperatures to get out and shake hands. In those states, voters don’t expect to be won over with ad buys and policy papers, they want to meet the candidates personally and be wooed. Mike Bloomberg doesn’t have time for that.
Instead, Bloomberg skipped both states in his putative attempt to buy the Democratic Party’s nomination. Getting out and shaking hands is for the little people—the millionaires—and Bloomberg doesn’t have to stoop to that level. It’s so unseemly and fraught with danger. Will he be expected to drink a soda with a commoner? What if someone serves him an overly salted meal on the rubber chicken circuit? What if he gets cold?
While Andrew Yang eschewed the tie for debates and events, he also did the retail politics necessary to normal campaigns. Look where that got him. Bloomberg is going a different route. Not only is he not wearing a tie, he’s also not wearing a coat.
He doesn’t need to campaign in New York this time, where he’d need a coat to brave the temps, because everyone knows New York would vote for the Democrat presidential candidate even if he were a syphilitic camel. This isn’t that kind of campaign, and Bloomberg isn’t that type of candidate. Let’s see where it gets him.
The Super Tuesday Candidate
Bloomberg is focusing on Super Tuesday. While Super Tuesday does include states experiencing winter, voters in those places don’t expect the same personal attention as do voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. Candidates don’t have to get out and shake hands or kiss babies. They don’t even have to spend the day in the state on Super Tuesday.
The other candidates do have to run advertising, though, which is also Bloomberg’s strategy. He’s already spent about $300 million on his campaign. He’s promised to spend up to $1 billion. He’s run ads during the Super Bowl. He’s saturating the airwaves in Super Tuesday states. Even voters in states like Arkansas are getting a plethora of Bloomberg.
Although it’s been cold in Arkansas, and presumably several other Super Tuesday states, ad buys also don’t require one to get out into the elements. Even the contracts his campaign signs for ads are probably handled electronically and don’t require old-school handshakes.
He Does Show Up, But…
Bloomberg has been actually visiting states, it must be conceded, and a few of them get cold. His website even offers an interactive map showing where he’s been. Yet it seems he’s really focused on warmer areas: Texas, South Carolina, California, Florida. The only reason he’s skipped Louisiana is voters there don’t cast their ballots until April 4. Otherwise, he could be enjoying some delicious food and the warmer temps he’s become accustomed to. Let the good times roll.
Bloomberg’s gambit is risky, although with Joe Biden imploding and Bernie Sanders maintaining his lead voters may want to roll the dice on a coatless billionaire who wants to buy the nomination. If they do, presidential elections will continue to get weirder.
In 2016, a former real estate developer and reality TV star captured the presidency. Will 2020 be the year for an aging nanny billionaire to snatch the nomination from a handful of reasonably hardworking millionaires?
Only time will tell. It would be unprecedented, and not just because Bloomberg skipped Iowa and New Hampshire. It would also be unprecedented because it’s unclear whether Bloomberg has ever worn a coat at any point during the campaign. Traditionally, candidates have to bundle up to get the nod. With Mike, that’s no longer a given.
One thing we can be sure of, however, is that regardless of whether he’s worn a coat, there’s a demonstrated history of him standing on a box.