But if Bloomberg, the man who invented an entire computer system to decipher financial markets, is such a numbers wonk, his many skeptics wonder about the math underpinning his potential candidacy.
He’s a billionaire and former Republican in a primary fueled by progressive energy and suspicion about wealth and conservatism. He’s an old, white New York technocrat who isn’t known for an electric speaking style in a party that yearns for the next Barack Obama. And he has potential problems with black voters after his stewardship of a police department that employed stop-and-frisk policing, which disproportionately targeted minorities.
He continued to defend the practice, which a judge ruled unconstitutional, even as his administration began reversing course on it.
Bill Burton, a former Obama campaign adviser, said he couldn’t understand Bloomberg’s path, saying it could not be paved with enough billions to carry him across the finish line.
“Bloomberg was previously able to overwhelm opponents with millions in relentlessly positive advertising,” Burton said. “The question today is whether that will be enough to take on the energy behind 40 percent of Democrats who support [Elizabeth] Warren and [Bernie] Sanders or the challenges for him in the African American community.”
If Bloomberg decides to run — and it’s still an if — he won’t merely face the challenge of growing a constituency overnight. He has to contend with the complications of the primary map and calendar. At this stage, Bloomberg is not planning to campaign hard in any of the early states: Iowa on Feb. 3, New Hampshire on Feb. 11, Nevada on Feb. 22 and South Carolina on Feb. 29, according to an adviser. In fact, the person said Bloomberg is leaving open the possibility that he may not contest some of them — or all.
Current polls show Warren leading in the first two states, and Biden in the latter two. If each wins in those four states as polls now indicate, it would likely winnow the field to a two- or three-person race heading into Super Tuesday on March 3, when 16 states vote.
That’s when Bloomberg would essentially start campaigning in earnest in undesignated states, the adviser said.
Biden aides counter that the former vice president is well positioned from Nevada’s caucus through Super Tuesday because he dominates among African American voters, and some polls show he also leads among Latinos. That could give him a major edge in collecting the delegates needed to clinch the nomination.
“About two-thirds of the delegates awarded in Nevada, South Carolina and Super Tuesday come from states where at least 40 percent of the Democratic primary vote will come from communities of color,” a top Democratic strategist and Biden booster who has advised the campaign said in a text message to POLITICO. By contrast, the person said, “Communities of color are 8-10 percent in Iowa and New Hampshire.”
“Unless there is something I’m missing, I don’t really see where his [Bloomberg’s] candidacy changes the current calculus after the first two states.”
Wolfson, Bloomberg’s top political adviser, wouldn’t discuss the former mayor’s specific poll numbers. When he opted not to run in March, Bloomberg was polling at just 2 percent in the crowded field. Also, about as many Democrats had a favorable impression of him as an unfavorable impression.