What is the #1 reason?
1. Money. Back to School is a 1987 comedy in which Rodney Dangerfield plays a déclassé millionaire who buys his way into college. A professor objects to admitting a rich guy simply because he donated to the school, to which the dean replies, “I don’t think Dr. Barbay understands the actual amounts that are involved here.”
You surely realize that Bloomberg is a very wealthy individual with the ability to self-fund, but you may not have focused on the actual amount of money Bloomberg could bring to bear on the campaign. It is beyond any experience in presidential history. In the last presidential election, Donald Trump spent $343 million. Spending by both sides, including outside money, barely exceeded $1 billion. Bloomberg is personally worth $56 billion. If nominated, he could easily part with one-tenth of his fortune and outspend the entire Republican party by five to one.
The evidence of the effect of political spending is mixed. Studies have reached contradictory conclusions on the marginal benefits of voter-registration drives, turnout operations, and paid advertising. But it seems fair to guess that potential outspending your opponent by five or ten to one on all these things is probably worth a couple points in the polls.
The most obvious problem is that there are major diminishing returns issues with campaign spending, and in 2016 Democrats already outspent Republicans 2-1 on the presidential election.Moreover, Chait assumes that this money would be spent rationally, when the fact that he’s spending enormous amounts of money on a vanity campaign instead of using it to try to defeat Trump means that we shouldn’t actually assume that. (Indeed, the results of these primaries will be another illustration of the limitations of what money can buy in politics.)
But the larger problem is that Democrats won’t want a serial sexual harasser who is proud of his support for the Iraq War, is cool on most of the Democratic agenda, and presided over a massively racist stop-and-frisk program as mayor. Luckily, this is a problem that will take care of itself.