Michael Bloomberg has nearly caught up with Joe Biden for second place in national polling of the Democratic race. Bernie Sanders is ahead of both.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s latest poll averages, Sanders has the support of 22.7 percent of Democrats. Biden is next with 16.8 percent. Then comes Bloomberg at 15.4 Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg follow at between 11 and 12 percent.
Absent those recordings of Bloomberg making common sense statements about issues pertaining to race, things would be looking rather rosy for the former New York City mayor. Recent polling shows Bloomberg faring well among African-Americans, probably for the same reasons Biden did — he’s well known and thought to have a decent shot at defeating President Trump.
But now word is coming out that Bloomberg talked about the virtues of stop and frisk and of heavy patrolling of certain minority neighborhoods (because that’s where the crime is). To make matters worse, Bloomberg drew the obvious connection between banks yielding to pressure to make loans to people with bad credit and the near collapse of the banking system in 2008.
Bloomberg has apologized abjectly for the first set of statements. I assume he will now apologize for the second. Straight talk about race is not permitted.
Will black voters forgive him for his straight talk and the cold way he delivered it? Will white Democrats view Bloomberg askance for kowtowing?
I’m pretty sure the answer to the second question is “no.” I’m not sure about the answer to the first.
Even without much black support, Bloomberg might do well in some primaries. But I don’t see a path to anything like a pre-convention majority for Bloomberg without a good showing among black voters.
If Bloomberg runs well but loses to Sanders, might he run as a third candidate in the general election? Our colleague Steve has been pointing to this possibility for some time. He notes that Bloomberg has hired staff (and lots of it) for the full year of 2020, not just through the Democratic convention.
Bloomberg might be particularly inclined to run in the general election if he believes he was denied the Democratic nomination because of charges that he’s a racist.
A Bloomberg candidacy presumably would work to the considerable advantage of President Trump, while severely injuring Bernie Sanders (if he’s the nominee). But I don’t assume that this prospect would deter Bloomberg from running.
During our most recent Power Line VIP show, I asked how Bloomberg would vote in a Trump-Sanders race. The consensus was that he would either vote for Trump or not vote. So I don’t expect Bloomberg to sit on sidelines during the general election out of fear of helping Trump.
Even before the “race tapes” emerged, Bloomberg must have expected that if his candidacy got off the ground, he would come under vicious attack from the Democratic left. I wouldn’t be surprised if leftists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hate him as much as they hate Trump.
Bloomberg entered anyway. He has convinced himself that, as Trump might say, “only he” can save this country from falling apart due to partisan hatreds. He also seems determined to bestow on the electorate the honor of voting for him.
Thus, Steve might be on to something when he suggests that the Bloomberg campaign will persist until November whether or not the Democrats nominate him. In any event, Bloomberg has to be delighted with his surge in the polls.