Super Tuesday

Losers Bloomberg and Steyer Spent Millions. Stop Freaking Out About Money in Politics.

Michael Bloomberg spent at least $500 million in his bid for a Super Tuesday blitz. He came away with...American Samoa. 


Michael Bloomberg spent $500 million in his bid for a Super Tuesday blitz.

He came away with…American Samoa.

Not all the results are reported yet, but the former New York City mayor appears on track to finish first in exactly zero of the 14 states that held primaries and caucuses on Tuesday night. He did win the caucuses in American Samoa (getting four delegates), and he appears to have picked up a few delegates in Colorado (and he may get a few more in California or Texas). Still, it is impossible to view Tuesday's results as anything other than a major disappointment for the billionaire who dumped nine figures of his personal fortune into the race.

He saturated the airwaves with his ads. He hired more than 2,500 people to work on his campaign. He skipped the first few states of the nominating process, apparently believing that his air support would do what other candidates' ground troops could not.

For a little while, it looked like it might have been working. But his debate performances partially deflated his rise, and Tuesday's expensive failure may force Bloomberg out of the race.

Oh, and the other billionaire in the Democratic primary? That would be Tom Steyer, the guy who dropped out three days ago after spending more than $250 million and winning exactly zero delegates.

It's fashionable for Democrats—and, if polls are to be believed, many Republicans too—to believe that something must be done about the supposedly intolerable influence of money in American politics.

Indeed, there is a lot of money in American politics, as the ongoing Democratic primary (and every election in recent memory) makes clear. But after Super Tuesday, it seems clear that candidates cannot buy their way into the White House.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who appears to have been the big winner on Tuesday, had fundraising issues during the primary campaign. He was outspent not only by Bloomberg and Steyer, but by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.). Biden won Tuesday's primaries in Minnesota and Massachusetts while spending hardly any money in either place.

"We believe in old-fashioned democracy: one person, one vote, not billionaires buying elections," Sanders said at a rally in mid-February.

Well, good news for Sanders. Billionaires aren't buying this election.

Money, at best, buys you a ticket to the dance. It cannot make you the prom king.

NEXT: Police Abuse Breeds Disrespect

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “…Indeed, there is a lot of money in American politics, as the ongoing Democratic primary (and every election in recent memory) makes clear….
    Michael Bloomberg spent $500 million in his bid for a Super Tuesday blitz.”

    OK, we have one ego-manic asshole hoping to buy the POTUS election compared to Hersheys:
    ~ $600mil in 2013 and 2014

    So the importance of the office, as determined by expenses, is somewhat close to the importance of which candy bar we eat.
    Now please note, this is not the total candy bar ad budget; I’m picking one average candy budget compared to the hugely inflated budget of that egocentric asshole whose major claim is to ‘BEAT TRUMP!’.
    The point is this: Comparing the supposed ‘importance’ of the office to the revealed importance of, oh, the candy bar market, no, there is not ‘a lot of money’ in politics.
    Nor should there be…

    1. ego-manic asshole = ego-maniac asshole
      The lack of a preview or edit feature is the reason Welsh now gets $5/year from me.

      1. I can understand Reason not wanting people to edit their comments to make replies to their original comment look bad.

        Other systems allow posters
        _ to preview before post
        _ to edit within time limit after post
        _ to edit with flag showing date and time

  2. The Bloomberg money was irrelevant anyway. The Russians will be spending another $100,000 on facebook ads, and that’s more than enough to counter anything Bloomberg may spend.

    1. That’s just too funny. Thanks for the humor. I’d go you one better, though: The Russians could spend $1 and it would be “more than enough to counter anything Bloomberg may spend.” Nobody likes Bloomberg and no one wants him to be President. He reminds me of one of those strange statues on Easter Island.

      1. That’s true, except the Eastern Island statues are way cooler. I used to want to buy a 3-foot reproduction of one to use as a garden decoration. I still might do that one day. But I wouldn’t want Bloomberg or any of the other candidates anywhere near my garden or me.

        1. I have been told some folks hang a dead rabbit’s skin from a stake at either end of the their vegetable garden to deter live rabbits from eating their veggies.

          May be a statue of Bloomberg would keep politicians out of your garden. Ever see live gnomes in a lawn with a Gartenzwerge (garden gnome)?

      2. The image of Bloomberg as an Easter Island Moai statue stirs pleasant memories.

        I remember reading excerpts from Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki in my 1950s baby sitter’s literature book, which also included a science fiction section with stills from Destination Moon and Benet’s story By The Waters of Babylon.

      1. and for A+ girls you should check nutten innsbruck and have amazing time

  3. Another good example: the Kochs have spent more than 2 billion dollars trying to stop Trump and he’s still shitting in Chuckie boy’s mouth 4 years later.

    1. Indeed. It’s heartbreaking to watch Charles Koch’s hard-earned fortune decline to an unacceptable $56,000,000,000 because of Drumpf’s disastrous economic policies.


  4. ndeed, there is a lot of money in American politics, as the ongoing Democratic primary (and every election in recent memory) makes clear. But after Super Tuesday, it seems clear that candidates cannot buy their way into the White House.

    Former Vice President Joe Biden, who appears to have been the big winner on Tuesday, had fundraising issues during the primary campaign. He was outspent not only by Bloomberg and Steyer, but by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.). Biden won Tuesday’s primaries in Minnesota and Massachusetts while spending hardly any money in either place.

  5. Yeah, Bloomberg and Steyer fell on their faces, but as long as Trump remains president, we’re gonna run around in circles with our panties in a bunch, screaming at the top of our lungs about billionaires–because we’re journalists, and that’s not just our job. It’s who we are.

    1. Even though Trump did not outspend his opponents. He got free publicity by running against the media and all the journalists whose hair was on fire about him.

      1. Of course the “journalists” will credit/blame the “Rooshians”.

        If the Russian Federation were still the Soviet Union and Vladimir Putin were still Joseph Stalin, our “journalists” would denounce criticism of Soviet legitimate concern over who became US president as McCarthyism, Red Scare, and Witch Hunting.

        The 2016 Russian meddling was so ineptly handled, it probably worked against, not for, Donald Trump. It was also very contradictory like different factions in Russia esp. operating out of Ukraine had different agendas and cancelled each other out. It influenced me about as much as the Russian mail-order bride e-mails I started receiving after my wife passed away 2014. An moldly annoying joke.

        But the $100,000 investment of IRA is a bigger threat to American free elections than $500,000,000 invested by Bloomberg alone? Seriously?

      2. Well if you remember when the RNC primary was still slogging along, they were FOR him. Always covering his speeches and endless yapping about him. It wasn’t until he got the nomination that the knives came out.

      3. Wall Street Banksters decide who becomes president. Trump the chump, like all those who preceded him, is just another court jester in the palace of the wall street oligarchs. Those who make it without wall street approval, and do for the people rather than doing for wall street, get blown off their saddle, just like JFK. RFK was sure to win and they knew he would come gunning to avenge his brother, so they blew him away before he even got in the saddle. Makes no difference who is president, the endless wars in the middle east will continue, junk from communist China will keep flooding store shelves, major tax breaks will keep going to the 1%…nothing will change except the purchasing power of the average worker, it will keep going down.
        Bloomberg was most likely the AIPAC fronted spoiler to derail Bernie. They did not have the insight to realize how much this vein billionaire is really despised by the average American. It cost 1/2 a billion dollars for him to realize it? Not too smart.

  6. Money in politics is only a problem when its the “wrong” politics. Wrong politics being anything non progressive left.

    1. Citizens united destroyed this country and Bloomberg and steyer proved it. Or something like that.

  7. Money can buy name recognition. But it can’t buy charisma or competence in campaigning. Bloomie became very well known as the polls showed, but his debate performance showed people he was an incompetent, narcissistic, boring fool.

    1. Similar to Hildog in 2016. Her approval ratings in Michigan and Ohio went down when she visited because she has a repulsive condescending manner; unlikeable bitch. No amount of money can scrub that away, but it can make it more transparent, actually working against the candidate. That’s what the MSM and other pundits fail to understand.

      If you’re an asshole, familiarity breeds contempt.

      1. If you’re an asshole, familiarity breeds contempt.

        Trump kind of proves that wrong. His smart ass comedy routine helps smooth over his assholery. Hillary was just an asshole with no personality to speak of. She is the embodiment of the evil robot overlord from science fiction.

  8. Nobody who has looked into it really thinks money in politics is a big problem. I mean, seriously, Trump won being out-spent 2-1, that should have driven a stake through the heart of THAT idea.

    What they think is, “The media are in our pocket, and if people can’t buy ads, we can dictate who wins, because nobody will hear of the candidates we don’t like.”

    Or, “We can censor political speech as long as we say it’s the money we’re regulating, not the speech.”

    Or, “As an incumbent, I already have name recognition and plentiful opportunities to be heard by the voters. If I can shut down the money, I need never fear another challenger!”

    1. Good points. Taking money out of politics strengthens the role of media moguls and incumbents.

    2. I would replace all the ors with ands.

  9. I have been doing a little happy dance all night. Not because I’m excited that Biden so throughly stomped Sanders—I couldn’t care less who Democratic voters pick—but because I’ve been predicting for weeks that Sanders’ star would begin to fade once primary season started in earnest. I was pretty confident that Bernie’s frontrunner status was always illusory, driven by early voting and the demographic quirks of the first few primary and caucus states, and so far that assessment has held true. I was also saying that Buttigieg and Klobuchar would have little appeal outside of the Midwest and New Hampshire, that the joyless harpy and relentless nag Warren would not resonate with voters anywhere, and that Bloomberg had jumped into the race far too late to do anything but play spoiler—although it looks like Warren may have done more to damage Sanders’ prospects than Bloomberg did.

    It’s obviously still early days and anything could happen, but Buttigieg and Klobuchar have bowed out, Warren has been thoroughly humiliated, and Bernie’s goose is more or less cooked. It feels good to be right. All it takes is to ignore the hype. It helps to stay off Twitter and to remain perpetually skeptical of media kingmaking.

  10. So, how soon will Chocolate-Jeebus endorse Good Ol’ Joe?

  11. I think we got a primer on this topic last time around, as Hillary’ huge financial advantage failed to buy the presidency.

  12. It will be interesting to see how the Democrats adjust their strategy vis-à-vis early voting in the wake of this election. Early voting is sold as a way to prevent the disenfranchisement of voters with disabilities and other special needs, and it’s possible that it does capture a (very) few of these voters. What early voting really does, though, is appeal to low-energy voters and bandwagon jumpers. But those aren’t the voters who drive elections in the end. The problem with early voting is that it’s not nimble—it lacks the agility to respond to shifting political tides. It’s great for POV pushing and building early hype behind fundamentally weak candidates (which is probably its true purpose), but it will never be a substitute for appealing to the more levelheaded voters who fancy themselves intelligent enough to reserve judgment until the last minute and dedicated enough to stand for hours in line to cast their votes at the polls. Time and time again we’ve seen the media their their support against marginal candidates who’ve garnered a groundswell of early voting, only to be disappointed—nay, shocked and stunned!—when the rank and file fell into formation behind the more mainline candidate on election day.

    Ah, who am I kidding? Democrats don’t learn from their mistakes. They double down on them.

    1. My perception* is that Democrat early voting tends to draw “yellow dog” Democrats who vote party line every time (“If the party ran a yellow dog as candidate, I’d vote for Cujo before I’d vote for a Republican”.)

      I have read that Trump did get a lot of votes from Democrats disenchanted with Hillary Clinton. Were there really Democrat voters who did not want a third or maybe fourth term for the Clinto Administration? Nah, it was all Roooshians and bitter clingers.

      * And it could be wrong, but at least I admit that.

      1. In other words, I consider early voting to be atypical voting a lot of the time. You are picking up a “trend” from voters who are not influenced by campaigning.

        Of course I have only been observing politics as a mixed ticket voter for half-a-century, so take my consideration in that light.

  13. LOL The man who would be queen wins American Samoa!

    1. With a whopping 175 votes!

      1. With that kind of vote total, he literally could have just hired on a large campaign staff and won.

        In fact, I’d like to see the breakdown of spending per vote. Because he’s spent so much, I’d wager that in some of these states he would have done better putting on a staff of temporary workers for 1 week as a “get out the vote” initiative.

        1. Bloomberg could have bought the entire population of American Samoa a check for ten thousand dollars and spent less money and got just as many delegates to the convention.

          1. A liberal friend of mine joked that Bloomberg could have actual bought American Samoa for what he spent.

  14. Never before in human history has someone wasted so much of his own money for so little. All those billions of dollars can buy Mini Mike anything in the world except longer legs, a bigger dick, the presidency, and his old status as #1 big shot in New York back.

  15. Lots of people think, “I’m smart, I don’t pay attention to ads, but other people are dumb. We have to protect all those dumb people from being exploited by the magic hypnotism of political ads.”

    Well, apparently not.

    1. “Other people are dumb about (insert anything at all) and must be protected from themselves” is the entire basis for statist politics, period.

    2. Wrong talking point.

      Republicans are idiots who fall for t.v. ads. Democrats are smart and corruption and spending in their party doesnt influence them at all. So union and billionaire money just helps a noble cause. But Republicans are too dumb so we should save them for lying anti Democratic ads.

      1. That is right. That is why Jeb won the nomination in 16.

  16. Wait just a fucking minute. Are you telling me Russias 100k in facebook ads didnt alter the election?!?

  17. So does this mean they will stop whining about Citizens United?

  18. As Bloomberg has learned, money cannot buy you the Presidency. It does, however, buy businesses corrupt political favors (eg monopolies and corporate welfare) at lower levels. Most of the money businesses contribute to politics is *not* for free markets and the rule of law. Suggested change to campaign law: make contributions anonymous to everybody, including the *recipient poltician*.

  19. Money only corrupts politics when the wrong person (the one who isn’t a leftist) wins.

  20. So $750 million got spent advertising democratic talking points, completely outside of any FEC reporting requirements or restrictions. That is the real point for these two guys. Neither actually expected to “buy” the nomination, they are just setting up organizations that are exempt from all political ad controls, because they are self funded. Bloomberg has even bragged that he will continue using his ‘campaign’ staff to support whoever the democrat elites finally pick over Bernie. Oddly enough, lots of that spending will be on infringing on the second amendment, advocating infanticide, and other fascist goals.

    1. That is right. They are not buying the office, they are buying influence over the office, which in many ways is even better. Who wants to risk their lives being President when you can get someone else to act as a front man for you?

  21. If you didn’t know any better, you would think Bloomberg ran for the single purpose of helping Biden by getting black voters motivated to come out and vote against him. I really have to wonder what kind of bubble Bloomberg and Steyer live in to think they had a chance to win the nomination.

    1. They likely surround themselves with people they have paid to be agreeable and support them. If you’re on Bloomberg’s campaign staff, telling him he has no shot is the end of that particular meal ticket.

  22. >>Former Vice President Joe Biden, who appears to have been the big winner on Tuesday

    dog. successfully. wagged.

  23. Why is the presidency the only “politics” that could be influenced by money?

    Money doesn’t buy you the White House. Therefore, money can’t buy you anything in the realm of politics.

    Does anyone buy that inference? I sure as hell hope not. It’s marvelous that straight-cash doesn’t get you elected to the White House, but can dollops of cash to the right legislator get a bill that favors your company before the House or Senate? Can the right financial incentives convince a certain party or other to support a legislative agenda that broadly supports your interests? That the presidency cannot be bought has no bearing on any of these.

  24. You would think that after repeated !failure! they would have an inkling of a glimmer of a clue that they need to do something different.
    Los Angeles County conclusively demonstrates that they are incapable of learning from their mistakes. Nearly two weeks of “early voting” and they still manage to have an Election Day that is most accurately described by a military technical term that I am prohibited from using in polite company, but it is a two word description related to SNAFU.
    The level of “problems” is a scenario that nobody would believe if written as a screenplay or novella, but demonstrates an almost perfect storm of errors conducive to Rampant Voting Fraud.

  25. Don’t worry about money in politics? I don’t think you understand what the problem is. It’s not campaign spending, it’s campaign donations. If you think about it a minute, it should be clear why.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.