It’s not entirely fair to say that Bloomberg lost $500 million in 2 debates. If the Democrats hadn’t solidified around Biden, he could have had a pathway. With the newfound Dem unity, there was no pathway.
Still, Bloomberg killed his momentum, the one that he bought with a fortune in catered campaign events, staffers, and ad campaigns, by appearing in two debates and reminding everyone of what New Yorkers already knew, that he’s a very unimpressive public figure.
Bloomberg would have done far better by skipping the debates. Instead he allowed Warren to lure him into a trap, which boosted her candidacy and, paradoxically, may hurt Bernie more in the long term.
Bloomberg’s longtime presidential ambitions were always delusional. But he decided that, just as he’d only become mayor because of a complete lack of viable alternative candidates, he could make it to the White House the same way. And while the Dem field was pretty miserable. Miserable enough that he made it to third place for only $500 million, it wasn’t nearly enough to get him over the top.
It did help the Dems unify around Biden, forcing Bloomberg to drop out and endorse him. Not the ideal outcome for Republicans who would have wanted an angry Bloomberg, stomping away and refusing to fund a Democrat machine in the general election.
Or stay in the race and waste everybody’s money.
But there’s something to be said for a guy cold-blooded enough to drop $500 million on a presidential race on a whim, and then just as coolly walk away from it.
Still for $500 million, Bloomberg could have built a giant statue of himself holding a torch and wearing a toga in New York harbor.
In the long run, that Ozymandias move would have been far more memorable.