26/09/2020

Michael Bloomberg has spent roughly three-quarters of the amount spent by all other presidential campaigns combined on ads

The candidate has spent $217 million so far on television and digital advertising, mostly ignoring the Democratic primaries and squarely challenging President Trump. The total is roughly three-quarters of the amount spent by all other campaigns, including Mr. Trumps, combined.Its the game plan the billionaire used in his campaign for mayor of New York City in 2001, when he outspent his competitor nearly 5 to 1. Big spending has also made his philanthropy a dominant force on climate change, gun control and other issues. And it is how he has managed his lucrative business, paying up to bring in talent.
The flow of cashdubbed the Bloomberg effect by media-measurement firm Advertising Analytics LLChas upended the financial dynamics of the election. Television ad rates jumped 45% in Houston after the Bloomberg campaign bought $1 million worth of ads in November, Advertising Analytics said. The campaign paid as much as double the going rate for staff and promised jobs to workers through November, whether or not Mr. Bloomberg stays in the race. The candidate, who is funding his run entirely by himself, now has 1,000 campaign staffers.
Its a big part of the reason roughly $20 billion is expected to be spent on political advertising this election cycle, dwarfing the previous record of $12 billion in 2016, according to media research firm, Borrell Associates.
Everything about what Bloomberg is doing is unprecedented, said
Rufus Gifford,
former finance director for
Barack Obamas
presidential campaign. Mr. Bloomberg remains a long shot, Mr. Gifford said, but when you have
Donald Trump
as president and one of the 10 richest people running for president, anything can happen.
Michael Bloomberg has hugely outspent other presidential candidates, and is focusing on Super Tuesday and later primaries.
Spending on local TV ads
Target StateS by primary date
Feb. 22Nev.
Feb. 29S.C.
Steyer
March 10N.D., Wash., Mo.
Miss., Idaho, Mich.
Sanders
Buttigieg
March 17
Fla., Ohio, llI., Ariz.
Warren
Yang
March 19Ky.
Biden
March 24Ga.
Klobuchar
April 7Wis.
Trump
April 28N.Y., Pa.
Gabbard
Delaney
May 19Ore.
Patrick
June 2D.C., N.M.
Bennet
Target StateS by primary date
Feb. 22Nev.
Feb. 29S.C.
Steyer
March 10
N.D., Wash., Mo.
Miss., Idaho, Mich.
Sanders
Buttigieg
March 17
Fla., Ohio, llI., Ariz.
Warren
March 19Ky.
Yang
March 24Ga.
Biden
April 7Wis.
Klobuchar
Trump
April 28N.Y., Pa.
Gabbard
Delaney
May 19Ore.
Patrick
June 2D.C., N.M.
Bennet
Target StateS by primary date
Bloomberg
$177.2 million
Feb. 22Nev.
Feb. 29S.C.
Steyer
March 10N.D., Wash.
Mo., Miss., Idaho, Mich.
Sanders
Buttigieg
March 17
Fla., Ohio, llI., Ariz.
Warren
Yang
March 19 Ky.
Biden
March 24Ga.
Klobuchar
April 7Wis.
Trump
April 28N.Y., Pa.
Gabbard
Delaney
May 19Ore.
Patrick
June 2 D.C., N.M.
Bennet
Kevin Sheekey,
Mr. Bloombergs campaign manager, said theres more to Mr. Bloombergs candidacy than his spending, pointing to wealthy but politically inexperienced candidates such as
Meg Whitman
or
Ross Perot
who failed in the past. Money wont just determine elections, he said. You have to have a record and a message.
Lots of rich people have run for office, lots of candidates have claimed excellent business credentials and many have claimed to have top-flight data operations, which Mr. Bloomberg emphasizes. What sets his campaign apart is his $55 billion checkbook.
Mr. Bloomberg is No. 9 on the Forbes list of the worlds richest people, ahead of each of the Google founders, either Koch brother and the wealthiest members of the Walton family. A person familiar with the plans said he could spend $500 million on the primaries alone, and Mr. Bloomberg hasnt ruled out spending $1 billion before November if needed.
Certainly its going to be disruptive, said
Robert Wolf,
former chairman and CEO of UBS Americas and a longtime Democratic donor. We just dont know how yet.
Mr. Bloomberg, who was mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013, is currently supported by 6% of voters, compared with 27% for former Vice President
Joe Biden
in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. More voters have a negative than a positive view of Mr. Bloomberg, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll from mid-December.
Mr. Bloomberg said he entered the race at a moment when polling data suggested voters placed less importance on ideology and more on finding a candidate who could beat Mr. Trump. His campaign believed Mr. Trump was winning the race and was going unchallenged in political ads in competitive states as Democratic candidates focused on the primary battle.
At the time, Massachusetts Sen.
Elizabeth Warren
was surging. Polls showed Mr. Biden beating Mr. Trump but within the margin of error. Ms. Warrens policies, such as a wealth tax, would likely hurt Mr. Bloomberg, and she is generally disliked by his circle of wealthy New Yorkers, according to a longtime staff member. Mr. Bloomberg has said he will back whoever wins the nomination, even if it is Ms. Warren or Vermont Sen.
Bernie Sanders.
Michael Bloomberg, who entered the presidential race just two months ago, has already spent roughly three-quarters of what the rest of the candidates combined have spent on TV, radio and digital ads.
Total ad spending
To offset criticism that he was running out of his own self interest, Mr. Bloomberg pledged $15 million to $20 million to register 500,000 voters before the election. His attacks on Mr. Trump are part of that effort.
Theres a sense that Bloomberg is doing something that the party cant dogoing negative on Trump, Mr. Gifford said. Its work that the party doesnt have the money to do, and other candidates dont have the ability to do.
After Mr. Trumps campaign said it had bought a 60-second TV spot during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, the Bloomberg campaign bought a 60-second spot that will target the president. The Bloomberg campaign declined to disclose how much it was spending for the spot, but advertising tracker Kantar/CMAG estimates it is worth $10 million.
Bloomberg spending has drawn Mr. Trumps attention. When the campaign aired an ad saying the president had broken his promise of protecting those with pre-existing health conditions, Mr. Trump pushed back on
Twitter
and labeled Mr. Bloomberg Mini Mike.
Mr. Bloombergs campaign said that because he started late, it is focusing on the Super Tuesday votes on March 3, rather than the early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. The plan plays to Mr. Bloombergs financial advantage and minimizes his weaknessesshaking hands and making small talk with voters, and giving stump speeches. The Super Tuesday states, where 40% of delegates will be chosen, instead depend more on television and digital advertising.
In addition to huge TV spending$193 million on ads since his campaign beganthe campaign has spent heavily online. It spent $16.1 million on Google ads as of Jan. 11 and $6.8 million on
Facebook
as of the end of December according to Kantar/CMAG.
Mr. Trump has spent $6.5 million on digital ads, and
Tom Steyer,
the other billionaire Democratic candidate, has spent $5.6 million since Mr. Bloomberg entered the race in November, as of the end of last year.
The Bloomberg campaign is offering field organizers salaries of $6,000 a month. For state data directors, its between $10,000 and $12,000 a month, according to job postings.
The campaigns 1,000-person payroll is more typical of an operation in the final months before Election Day. Mr. Biden has roughly 400 campaign staffers, while Mr. Sanders has built an 800-person staff.
The former mayors late entry into the race has forced the campaign to create a sense of momentum and hope people will actually jump on, said a person familiar with Mr. Bloombergs state operations.
Campaign veterans said money wont necessarily bring in the best staff and said many experienced staffers want to work for people they support. Other campaigns, including Ms. Warrens and Mr. Sanderss, already have operations in Super Tuesday states and are ramping up hiring in later states.
Mr. Bloomberg has spent in markets that havent been targeted by other Democrats. His campaign has plunked down $21.2 million on television advertising in Texas, where none of the leading Democrats have spent a penny. It has spent $8.4 million in Pennsylvania, which doesnt hold its primary until April 28.
It has even poured resources into smaller states that are typically not on the primary radar. In Idaho, it has spent $979,000 so far; in Utah, $1.6 million.
He is going far, far ahead of where the rest of the guys are scrumming, said Kip Cassino, executive vice president at Borrell Associates, the media research firm. He is basically saying, Im not going to win in Iowa, and I am not going to get out there and kiss pigs. And I wont win in New Hampshire, but I will win in the rest of the states, and I will get the states that most everyone didnt care about before.
Im running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America, Mr. Bloomberg said when he announced his candidacy. Photo: YANA PASKOVA/GETTY IMAGES
At the beginning of January, candidates had spent close to $540 million on political ads in the presidential race over the prior 12 months, about 10 times what would have been expected at this point in this election cycle, Mr. Cassino said.
We have never seen anything like this, Mr. Cassino said, referring to Mr. Bloombergs spending. We are only just starting to see how distorting this might be.
Mr. Bloombergs potential handicaps among Democratic voters include his support for Republican candidates in the past, including former President
George W. Bush.
Other issues that could hurt are his support for charter schools in his education-reform efforts, and the stop-and-frisk policy he adopted as mayor, in which New York police had wide latitude to detain and search passersby for contraband. A federal judge eventually ruled the policy violated the constitutional rights of minorities. Mr. Bloomberg apologized for the stop-and-frisk policy before he kicked off his campaign.
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Some Democrats fear Mr. Bloomberg could drag out the primary with his limitless budget, or use his money to try to influence the leading candidates, hoping to pull some of them to the political center, which he sees as the way to beat Mr. Trump.
Mr. Bloombergs team said the data operation he is building will benefit Democrats overall, which he said are far behind the Republicans on the gathering and use of voter data. His data firm, Hawkfish LLC, launched in the spring. It has hired Facebooks former chief marketing officer and the former CEO of Foursquare, the location tracking firm.
Mr. Bloomberg has cited his research and spending on the 2018 midterm elections as evidence of his commitment to the partys success. Democratic candidates won 21 of the 24 races in which he was involved. In most races, the spending focused on digital advertising early in the election cycle and TV advertising closer to election day, when ad reservations were more expensive and Republican groups could not as easily counter their message.
In an Oklahoma House of Representatives race, which appeared to be a long-shot for the Democrats, Mr. Bloomberg unleashed a wave of last-minute ads that attacked the Republican candidate. Democrat
Kendra Horn
won by a few thousand votes.
I supported 24 candidates who were good on guns and good on environment, and 21 of them won, and that flipped the House, he said at a recent campaign stop in Philadelphia. So if it wasnt for that, you wouldnt have [Speaker of the House Nancy] Pelosi and you wouldnt have impeachment.
—Gregory Zuckerman contributed to this article.
Write to Tarini Parti at Tarini.Parti@wsj.com and Lukas I. Alpert at lukas.alpert@wsj.com
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