Bloomberg can't win, but he could help reelect Trump

For most Democrats, rightly fixated on beating Donald Trump, Michael BloombergMichael BloombergWake up, America — see what's coming Bloomberg urges court to throw out lawsuit by former campaign staffers Former Obama Ebola czar Ron Klain says White House's bad decisions have put US behind many other nations on COVID-19; Fears of virus reemergence intensify MORE’s campaign for President is about the last thing they need. The bitter irony is that Bloomberg, a mega-billionaire, lifelong Republican, and New York conservative, has no chance of actually winning this year’s populist-leaning Democratic nomination himself. But his candidacy holds a host of dangers for Democrats and could complicate their efforts to defeat Trump.

For one thing, Bloomberg’s campaign risks further dividing Democrats over issues of extreme wealth and economic fairness, emboldening far left candidates like Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations Progressive activist Ady Barkan endorses Biden, urges him to pick Warren as VP Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream On The Money: Deficit rises to record .7 trillion amid pandemic: CBO | Democrats sidestep budget deal by seeking 0B in emergency spending | House panel advances spending bill with funding boost to IRS Biden-Sanders unity task force calls for Fed, US Postal Service consumer banking MORE (I-Vt.) and their supporters who see Bloomberg as the embodiment of the problem. In fact, Bloomberg’s money-fueled campaign seems to mirror or even legitimize Trump’s political approach of 2016. Of course, Bloomberg’s candidacy could also undermine Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Tammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream Mexico's president uses US visit to tout ties with Trump MORE, the candidate polls have consistently found most likely to beat Donald Trump in the general election.

Perhaps most dangerous, Bloomberg’s massive TV ad buys, with tens of millions already announced, may purchase just enough support in the huge Super Tuesday and other now early mega-primaries to prevent the Democrats from giving any single candidate a majority of delegates. This would increase the already growing chances of a brokered convention in Milwaukee this summer, potentially leaving a weakened, liberal Democratic nominee who lacks the legitimacy of gaining a majority of primary delegates.

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All of this makes a mockery of Bloomberg’s stated intention that he is entering the race to increase the chances of beating Donald Trump. Instead, party leaders like Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNeil Young updates song 'Lookin' for a Leader' opposing Trump, endorsing Biden Bellwether counties show trouble for Trump Trump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? MORE should indicate to Democratic primary voters that Bloomberg’s erstwhile candidacy is a huge mistake, and Democrats should not support him because of these risks.

Even before Bloomberg threw his shiny silk top hat into the crowded Democratic ring, a series of changes to the Democratic nominating process and campaign practices have increased the chances that no candidate gains a majority of delegates before the convention in July.

California and other major states moved their primaries up to March, so that almost two-thirds of all Democratic delegates will be chosen by March 17. That means that money will play a much larger role in this nomination, and personal campaigning less, as Bloomberg knows, perhaps allowing him to siphon off the 15 percent generally needed in some big states to receive delegates.

Democrats have also prohibited Super Delegates from voting on the first ballot for the nomination — a decision the party arrived at after concerns that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' | Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages | State and local officials beg Congress for more elections funds OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 | Park Police did not record radio transmissions during June 1 sweep of White House protesters | Court upholds protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears GOP Miami mayor does not commit to voting for Trump MORE’s reliance on Super Delegates to gain the 2016 nomination alienated Sanders voters, especially the young.  But the risks of increasing the chances of a far-left candidate winning the nomination, or preventing any candidate from gaining a majority, seem not to have been fully considered.

In addition, no longer can a handful of top Democratic fundraisers dominate the process, throwing support behind a moderate they view as most likely to prevail in a general election.

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Add to this the sheer size of the Democratic field, with at least ten substantial candidates: including Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHouse Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 'The Senate could certainly use a pastor': Georgia Democrat seeks to seize 'moral moment' Some realistic solutions for income inequality MORE (D. Colo.); former Vice President Biden; Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerData shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs New Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Amy Kennedy wins NJ primary to face GOP's Van Drew MORE (D-N.J.); Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockHealth care group launches M ad campaign hitting Trump in battleground states The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's job approval erodes among groups that powered his 2016 victory Senate outlook slides for GOP MORE; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg's new book, 'Trust,' slated for October release Biden hires top aides for Pennsylvania Democratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights MORE; Bloomberg; Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases The Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 Hillicon Valley: QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem | Supreme Court upholds regulation banning robocalls to cellphones | Foreign hackers take aim at homebound Americans | Uber acquires Postmates MORE (D-Minn.); former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Top Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden Andrew Yang endorses Biden in 2020 race MORE; Sanders and Warren — none with a strong reason to leave the race before Super Tuesday. The ability of any single candidate to gain 50 percent has never been so challenged.

All of these factors increase the chances that no candidate will gain a majority of delegates going into the convention in Milwaukee in July.

As for Bloomberg, outside of buying votes with TV ads, it’s unclear what cohort of democratic primary voters he and his campaign think he can win. None of the major groups — progressives, women, blacks, Hispanics, the young, and working-class voters — seem to have any strong reason to support him. No wonder he is polling in the low single digits. His recent apology over his “stop and frisk” policies while Mayor of New York served simply to remind progressive Democrats that he ran then as a pro-Wall Street right of center, lock-‘em-up law-and-order conservative, not exactly what most Democrats are looking for this year.

Meanwhile, the implications of a brokered Convention are not reassuring to those whose main goal is beating Trump.

In previous eras, when no candidate had a majority, party bosses would choose a nominee who seemed most likely to win in the general election. But such an outcome is unthinkable in today’s Democratic Party obsessed with fairness and meritocracy. Instead, whichever candidate has the most primary-won delegates would be almost guaranteed the nomination, no matter how weakly he or she might run against President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE. This may well be ultra-liberal Elizabeth Warren, the major candidate (along with Sanders) perhaps most likely to lose to Trump.

Bloomberg can’t win, but any support he manages to buy could complicate Democratic efforts to beat Trump. Even moderate Democrats should wise up to this danger.

Paul Bledsoe is president of Bledsoe & Associates, a policy and communications consultancy. He is also a lecturer at American University’s Center for Environmental Policy. He served as staff member in the U.S. House, Senate Finance Committee, Interior Department and on President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonKanye West says he had coronavirus The Hill's 12:30 Report- Presented by Facebook - Trump threatens schools' funding over reopening Fox News apologizes for 'mistakenly' cropping Trump out of photo with Epstein, Maxwell MORE’s White House Climate Change Task Force.