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Bloomberg drops out after terrible Super Tuesday, endorses Biden

Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEverytown hits GOP on gun safety in closing .5M battleground ad barrage A closing argument: Why voters cannot trust Trump on healthcare Biden campaign swamps Trump on TV airwaves MORE dropped out of the 2020 race on Wednesday after a disappointing performance on Super Tuesday despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars in advertisements.

"Three months ago, I entered the race for President to defeat Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE. Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump — because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult," Bloomberg said in a statement.

He also endorsed former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter Trump narrows Biden's lead in Pennsylvania: poll Florida breaks first-day early voting record with 350K ballots cast MORE, saying it was clear from the Super Tuesday results that Biden was the best candidate to defeat Trump in November.

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“I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden," he said.

Later in the day Bloomberg appeared to become emotional when addressing staffers and supporters in New York City.

"I'm sorry we didn't win, but it's still the best day of my life, and tomorrow's going to be even better," he said, getting choked up. 

"Every place I went I listened to Americans - I heard about their hopes, their dreams, their fears, and their struggles," Bloomberg told the crowd. "Those conversations just affirm my faith in the work that our team was doing to defeat Donald Trump." 

The former New York City mayor again endorsed Biden and said that he was "clear-eyed" that his objective was victory in November. 
 
“Together we will get it done!” he said. 

As of Wednesday morning, Bloomberg had secured 44 pledged delegates in the race for the Democratic nomination. Biden leads the field of candidates with 453 delegates, followed by 382 for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Tipping point week for Trump, Biden, Congress, voters Biden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw MORE (I-Vt.) and 50 for Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Government watchdog to investigate allegations of Trump interference at CDC, FDA MORE (D-Mass.), according to figures from the Associated Press.

Fourteen states and one U.S. territory -- American Samoa -- cast ballots on Super Tuesday. Bloomberg's only outright victory was in American Samoa, which does not have any votes in the Electoral College.

Bloomberg's endorsement of Biden comes on the heels of similar support from two other former White House hopefuls: Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Senate Democrats seek to alleviate public concern about some results not being available on election night Washington flooded with Women's March protesters ahead of Barrett confirmation vote MORE (D-Minn.) and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg says it's time to 'turn the page' on Trump administration Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 Biden town hall questioner worked as speechwriter in Obama administration: report MORE. Both had been competing with Biden and Bloomberg in the moderate lane.

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The past five days have been a whirlwind for Biden, who used a decisive victory in Saturday’s South Carolina’s primary to catapult him to wins in most of the Super Tuesday states.

The strategy

The billionaire officially launched his campaign on November 24. Sanders and Biden had launched their campaigns in February and April of 2019, respectively.

The 78-year-old entered the race so late that he didn’t qualify for the first four Democratic primaries: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

His unorthodox strategy was to instead focus heavily on Super Tuesday, in which 14 states and American Samoa vote. If he could win a couple of states and remain competitive in others, then he could stay in the race long enough to make the party convention in July contested.

Bloomberg reiterated this on the eve of Super Tuesday to reporters in his Miami field office.

“You don’t have to win states, you have to win delegates," Bloomberg said.

When pushed on whether he wanted a contested convention, Bloomberg replied: "I don’t think that I can win any other way.”

To be nominated on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention, a candidate needs a majority of pledged delegates — 1,991. If a candidate doesn’t have this then the convention becomes contested.

Bloomberg didn’t need to come close to 1,991, he just needed to siphon off enough delegates so that no other candidate would be able to either.

In years past, superdelegates — senior or former Democratic leaders, including former presidents and lawmakers — were able to vote on the first ballot at the convention, allowing candidates who had a plurality of delegates to capture the nomination on the first ballot.

However, due to a push by Sanders and other lawmakers after the 2016 convention, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) made a rule change that prohibits superdelegates from voting until the second ballot.

If no candidate secures the nomination after the first ballot, then the convention would become brokered and move to a second ballot. This was Bloomberg’s window of opportunity. After the first ballot, pledged delegates — delegates won in the primaries — are able to freely change their votes and superdelegates would then be able to cast ballots as well.

Bloomberg would have then hoped that enough delegates were disenfranchised with both Biden and Sanders and switch their vote to him.

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However, brokered conventions are exceedingly rare in modern U.S. politics. The last brokered convention for both parties was in 1952 when Adlai Stevenson won the Democratic nomination and Dwight Eisenhower the Republican nomination.

Bloomberg’s chances were dashed further after Klobuchar and Buttigieg withdrew from the race at the beginning of the week, further consolidating the moderate Democratic vote for Biden.

Show me the money

Despite his chances from the onset, Bloomberg did possess something that every political campaign covets: a nearly infinite source of money.

Worth over $60 billion, Bloomberg announced early in his run that he would be completely funding his campaign from his personal fortune.

During his 101-day run, Bloomberg spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising in Super Tuesday states and built an impressive nationwide campaign of over 2,000 staffers.

According to analysis from Advertising Analytics, the former New York mayor spent more than $550 million on his campaign.

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Specifically, Bloomberg targeted California and Texas, the two Super Tuesday states with the highest delegate counts. He spent $73.5 million and $54.1 million in the two states, respectively.

In total, he spent more $200 million dollars on ads in Super Tuesday states. Broken down further, Bloomberg paid more than $4 million for each of the 44 delegates that he earned on Tuesday.

Julia Manchester contributed to this report, which was updated at 3:55 p.m.