vision 2020

Bloomberg Poll Bump Shows That Money Talks

You think Tom Steyer’s rich? Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Robin Hood

In two new national polls appearing today, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is experiencing a jump in support attributable to his massive ad spending. In the huge Morning Consult tracking poll, Bloomberg’s up to 5.3 percent. Last week in the same survey he was at 2.4 percent. Similarly, in the HarrisX/Hill poll, he’s doubled his support from three percent two weeks ago to six percent now.

Now that’s just two polls — neither of them gold standard — but even in meh-quality surveys trends matter. And it’s probably shocking to supporters of candidates (e.g., Kamala Harris, who is even with Bloomberg in the Morning Consult survey and far behind him in HarrisX/Hill) who have been in the race forever that this Mikey-come-lately and ex-Republican is outpacing them anywhere.

It’s much less surprising when you remember what Bloomberg’s campaign was doing during the last week, per this New York Times report:

[N]ewly minted presidential candidate Michael R. Bloomberg made a splashy and expensive entrance into the 2020 race, dropping more than $30 million for one week’s worth of television ads across the country.

It’s the most expensive week for a presidential candidate in a U.S. primary election in history, expanding the political ad inundation well beyond the confines of Iowa and New Hampshire markets….

But what, exactly, does $30 million buy?

Essentially, it will buy Mr. Bloomberg national name recognition within a week. While he is a household name in New York City, and to a lesser extent in the northeast, the former mayor and billionaire businessman isn’t universally known beyond that.

When you look at individual market buys, it’s really stunning:

The $30 million will bring Mr. Bloomberg’s rotation of three ads to 99 local markets and a national audience. Very, very often.

In the two biggest markets in Texas — Houston and Dallas — Mr. Bloomberg is spending a combined $2.3 million. In Los Angeles, it’s $1.9 million. And $1.1 million in Miami.

Those four markets alone represent more political advertising for this week than the entire rest of the field has spent combined. It’s also more than many campaigns have spent on television at all.

To put it even more graphically, Bloomberg has matched the historic, relentless ad spending of fellow-billionaire Tom Steyer in a single week.

So of course he’s gotten a bump. Its durability, much less its replicability, is called into question by another number from Morning Consult: Bloomberg’s favorability ratio is 38/29. That unfavorability rating is the highest in the field; higher than Marianne Williamson’s (22 percent) and higher than Tulsi Gabbard’s (26 percent). Meanwhile, his favorability number is only the eighth highest in the field (lower than Andrew Yang’s 41 percent, for example), before anyone has gone after him with a claw hammer, which they will if he keeps making gains.

Bloomberg may provide the definitive test of whether money can buy a candidate enough voter love to overcome a significant number of voter misgivings. But he’s sure gotten everyone attention now.

Bloomberg Poll Bump Shows That Money Talks