U.S. election 2020: Does Bloomberg stand a chance?
Sun Chenghao

Editor's Note: Sun Chenghao is an assistant research professor at the Institute of American Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On November 8, the former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg took his first step into 2020 U.S. presidential elections by submitting paperwork to enter the primary election in Alabama, shaking the already crowded Democratic presidential field.

It is late for Bloomberg to join in the game because the latest an eventual nominee launched a presidential campaign was August of the year before the election. However, Bloomberg decided to take an unorthodox and risky way to pursue his path to the nomination – concentrating on the Super Tuesday States and bypassing the first four key voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Considering that Bloomberg said before that the Democratic field was too crowded, his actions now prove his frustration towards the current Democratic candidates, especially when the former vice president Joe Biden is being trapped in the Ukraine scandal. For Bloomberg, it is a question of now or never.

But the road ahead is bumpy. As a billionaire and former Republican, Bloomberg is not an ideal candidate for the Democratic voters who are calling for another Barack Obama. Bloomberg once pledged to spend at least 500 million U.S. dollars from his own assets to prevent President Donald Trump from a second term. But for Democratic voters, Bloomberg just changed his political party affiliation to Democratic in October 2018.

Bloomberg is also not warmly welcomed by the non-white American communities. He is, by no means, a model of inclusiveness towards different ethnic groups. When he was the mayor of New York, there were only a few non-white officials under his governance. 

Bloomberg was criticized for lacking sympathy when he supported the stop-and-frisk policing policies which argued that the active police practice of stopping and frisking young men of color in tense neighborhoods had helped keep New York safe.

People vote at Robious Elementary School in Virginia, the U.S., November 5, 2019. /VCG Photo

People vote at Robious Elementary School in Virginia, the U.S., November 5, 2019. /VCG Photo

Generally speaking, the Democratic voters are not looking forward to Bloomberg's possible participation in the primary. The recent Fox News poll showed that only six percent of likely Democratic primary voters would definitely vote for Bloomberg if he entered the race. Since 1980, only one nominee with such a low popularity rating won the nomination, and that's President Trump.

Still, Bloomberg could impact his competitors in the Democratic camp. Biden will bear the brunt. Although Biden still leads in an aggregate of national poll, he has fallen behind Elizabeth Warren in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states which have more relevance to actual votes.

Bloomberg's decision to run will put Biden in a much more dangerous place. Bloomberg's willingness to step in is largely based on his perception of Biden's waning. Bloomberg would be a moderate alternative in the primary since he holds relatively liberal views on healthcare and climate change, and progressive position on issues like gun control.

Bloomberg's supporting base will inevitably overlap with that of Biden, which will ironically make Warren likelier to win the nomination. In addition, as a billionaire, Bloomberg will offer more impetus and momentum for the rising populist wing of the Democratic Party to fight against economic inequality.

Bloomberg is so sticking to his own ideas that when a judge ruled the stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional, he still defended the practice. This time, it seems that he believes he is the only one who can represent the Democratic Party to defeat Trump in 2020. Maybe he is wrong again.

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