By David Brennan* – Newsweek
Former Vice President Joe Biden capped off a stunning week of electioneering with an impressive showing on Super Tuesday, emerging as the front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination despite his sluggish start to the campaign.
As of early Wednesday morning, Biden sits top of the pledged delegate table with 453, ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is the only realistic challenger left in the race, on 382. Votes are still being counted in California—which boasts the largest number of delegates—but Biden’s showing on Super Tuesday puts him back at the front of the pack.
Billionaire and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg had a very different night. Tuesday was the first time his name was on the ballot, following a months-long advertising blitz that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Bloomberg is projected to pick up 44 delegates, but needed to do far better to have a chance of securing the nomination in Milwaukee in July.
Both Bloomberg and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are under pressure to drop out of the race. Bloomberg’s “obscene” personal wealth—as Sanders described it—and impressive national campaign infrastructure could supercharge a campaign if he decided to fall in line behind a remaining candidate.
Bloomberg is worth around $60 billion and has suggested he is willing to spend $1 billion to help the future Democratic candidate defeat fellow New York billionaire President Donald Trump in November. He has already dropped more than $500 million on advertising.
Bloomberg told The New York Times he would be willing to throw his personal wealth behind any nominee—even Sanders and Warren, who have both outlined plans for wealth taxes.
“I really don’t agree with them,” he said of the two progressive senators, “but I’d still support them, yes, because compared to Donald Trump that’s easy.”
As a more moderate candidate—though one who still plans to bring in new taxes on the wealthiest Americans, if less punitive than Sanders and Warren—Biden may offer a more attractive alternative for Bloomberg if he was to drop out, something Politico reported he is considering.
Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar—booth moderate candidates—have already fallen in behind Biden and endorsed the former vice president, giving him welcome momentum ahead of Super Tuesday and likely winning him at least some of their pledged delegates in July.
But Buttigieg and Klobuchar cannot offer anywhere near the financial or infrastructural clout that Bloomberg can. The 78 year old has hired 500 staffers across 30 states in preparation for a run at the White House, while cultivating a large social media operation alongside a $100 million online advertising push.
Those 500 staffers—many of whom are being paid far higher than the going rate for campaign staff—are contracted through to November in battleground states including Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Arizona.
As Bloomberg’s states director said in January, “Our campaign is building the most robust national organization and infrastructure to beat Donald Trump.” Such a resource would be hugely helpful to whatever Democrat is facing Trump later this year, even if it is not the man for whom it was originally built.
Newsweek has contacted both the Bloomberg and Biden campaigns for comment.
*Senior Reporter for Newsweek covering world politics and current affairs. Prior to joining Newsweek in early 2018, he reported on British politics and global current affairs as a staff writer at International Business Times.