WASHINGTON – After pouring more than $1.2 billion of his personal fortune into presidential politics this election, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has little to show for it.
His only win during a short-lived Democratic bid for the White House was in the territory of American Samoa. And after pledging to spend “whatever it takes” to defeat President Donald Trump, he routed $110 million to Florida, Ohio and Texas — all states that President-elect Joe Biden lost.
Bloomberg, who built a media and financial services empire before turning to electoral politics, has long used his $55 billion in estimated wealth to play kingmaker, with no shortage of candidates and causes seeking favor.
Yet after dumping $1.1 billion into his campaign, he waited until September to follow through on his vow to spend big to unseat Trump. His investment was especially disappointing in Florida, a battleground state that is normally decided by razor-thin margins but that Trump won this year by 3.4 percentage points.
The showing could raise questions about Bloomberg's ability to use his vast financial resources to sway politics in the future. Some Democrats are now questioning the mystique that has long shrouded Bloomberg's political operation, which promotes itself as shrewd, dispassionate and data-driven when making decisions about how to invest in campaigns.
“He made a lot of noise about putting $100 million into Florida. We didn’t see any of that money until six weeks out,” said Alex Sink, the 2010 Democratic nominee for Florida governor who endorsed Bloomberg’s presidential bid. “Yes, he spent a lot. But it goes back to how and when we talk to our voters. It was too late, and the airwaves were already saturated.”
The 2020 campaign proved that money does not always translate into votes. Fundraising powerhouses like Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison in South Carolina were soundly defeated.
Bloomberg advisers say it's unfair to blame him for not doing enough to help Biden in Florida. They note that no one else donated anywhere near as much as he did, which paid for voter mobilization programs and advertising. And Bloomberg wasn't the only Democrat or group committing resources to the state, though he did receive an outsize share of the publicity.