Why Michael Bloomberg’s expensive failure is Joe Biden’s gain

Washington: First Joe Biden won big on Super Tuesday. Then came his wonderful Wednesday.

The former vice president's blessed run continued thanks to billionaire Michael Bloomberg's decision to drop out of the Democratic presidential race.

New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg spent an unprecedented amount on political advertising but has bowed out of the presidential race. Credit:AP

After spending over US$500 million ($755 million) on political advertising, Bloomberg's presence on the ballot lasted just a single day. He didn't win a majority of delegates in any Super Tuesday state, although he did crush the competition in the farflung territory of American Samoa (population 56,000).

Bloomberg's departure cements Biden, once and for all, as the only moderate candidate left in the Democratic race – and the clear favourite to take on Donald Trump in November.

All smiles: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden.Credit:AP

The two men were making essentially the same arguments and competing for the same primary voters. Now Biden has the moderate lane to himself.

Bloomberg quickly endorsed Biden, but it's not his words that will help Biden: it's the delegates and resources he can provide.

While Bloomberg underperformed his expectations dramatically on Super Tuesday, he still picked up 14 per cent of the vote. He had been polling well in important upcoming states such as Florida.

The vast majority of Bloomberg's votes will now flow to Biden in the upcoming contests, helping him rack up big delegate hauls in southern states like Florida, Georgia and Louisiana.

That could well give him a delegate lead that Bernie Sanders simply can't overcome.

Secondly, Biden's biggest weakness has been a chronic lack of funds and a sclerotic campaign organisation.

For example, he had just one official campaign field office in the giant state of California. Sanders had a reported 23 field offices in the state.

Biden's campaign spent just US$2 million on advertising in the Super Tuesday states compared to US$20 million for Sanders and $200 million for Bloomberg.

Biden will now have the Bloomberg money machine working for him rather than against him.

Under US campaign finance rules, Bloomberg can't directly hand over his campaign apparatus to Biden. But he can turn it into an independent pro-Biden Super PAC.

This will deliver its big pay-off in the general election if Biden is the nominee. He doesn't have Sanders' grassroots fundraising capacity, and will need money to compete with Trump, whose campaign is overflowing with funds.

Bloomberg's money couldn't make him a charismatic candidate or a talented debater, but it will allow Democrats to compete with Trump on the airwaves and Facebook ahead of November.

While Biden is riding high, Sanders is still coming to terms with the reshaped nature of the race.

The Super Tuesday results exploded Sanders theory of victory, both in the Democratic primary and the general election. His campaign argued that his vision of a political revolution would drive up the youth turnout and bring new voters into play.

Turnout did rise in many Super Tuesday states, but it was older and more moderate suburban voters who flocked to the polls to vote for Biden.

The problem with targeting what are traditionally non-voters, as we saw on Super Tuesday, is this segment often doesn't vote.

Sanders will have to expand his coalition to include more dependable voters if he is to have a hope of defeating Biden.

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