For decades, political scientists have been researching whether and how political advertising changes voters’ opinions.
An 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.
He is currently projected to spend more on advertising than Hillary Clinton spent in the entire 2016 Democratic primary in exchange for a paltry number of delegates.
Here’s one explanation: A national election or primary produces so much media across TV, audio, digital, and print platforms that $300 million worth of ads captures just a microscopic sliver of the totality of attention paid by likely voters. Spending half a billion dollars on advertising in a national election to change millions of minds is perhaps no more realistic than ladling soup into an ocean to change its salinity.
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.
But on Friday, after Bloomberg moved into fourth place in national polling averages, the DNC junked its donor-threshold rule for the February 19 debate in Nevada. This opens the door for Bloomberg’s participation—and to complaints of preferential treatment for a Johnny-come-lately billionaire who doesn’t deserve it.Whether Bloomberg flames out in two weeks or becomes the 46th president of the United States, his opulent experiment in self-funding could open a Pandora’s box of billionaire projects.
“Mounting a historically well-funded presidential campaign is a minor indulgence [for a billionaire] akin to an upper middle-class family spending a weekend at a ski resort.”
Bloomberg supporters might counter that plutocrats have been pulling strings in Washington for years, especially in the post–Citizens United world. (The families Koch, Mercer, and Soros didn’t need Bloomberg’s inspiration to spend tens of millions of their own dollars to support Republican or Democratic causes in the past few election cycles.) And, they might add, there is something almost quaintly straightforward about a self-funding billionaire with a public record of legislation who owes no favors to occult special interests. You can love or hate the idea of a billionaire philosopher-king nominee, but it’s the opposite of a Manchurian candidate.
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Statement from Mike Bloomberg on the Senate Acquittal Vote:
“The trial was a charade, and the vote is a disgrace. I have no doubt that historians will ultimately convict this President, along with the Republicans who lack the courage to do it themselves. But we cannot wait for history to render its verdict – that is our job. We must do in November what all but one of the Senate Republicans did not have the courage to do: vote to remove a lawless, reckless president and turn the page on this dark chapter in the life of our country. And the only way to do that is by nominating a candidate who can build the broadest and strongest coalition to take the fight directly to Trump – and win.”