I just saw an advertisement on TV: "Bloomberg for president!", but I am not seeing him in any of the primary results.

How can he have any realistic chance of being the Democratic nominee if he's not on the ballot in any of the primaries so far?


6 Answers 6


FiveThirtyEight currently gives him a 3% chance of winning a majority of delegates (about as likely as Elizabeth Warren), and an 8% chance of winning a plurality (about as likely as Pete Buttigieg) so he seems to have at least some chance of becoming the nominee.1 His most plausible route to victory is managing to rally a group of delegates for other centrist candidates behind him (with some potential help from superdelegates) in a contested (or brokered) convention.

Since he entered the race at a significantly later date than many other candidates, he chose to skip some early states where he felt he stood very little chance and instead focus on later states with a more delegates. His campaign is aimed at gaining momentum from a strong result on "Super Tuesday".

He has been ineligible to participate in any of the debates so far, as he has met neither the polling requirements, nor the requirements to have donations from a given number of individuals. The latter requirement has been dropped recently, most likely because it would have prevented him from ever participating (his campaign is entirely self-funded). He has made up for this by spending significantly more than any other candidate on TV advertising.

1 (It should be noted that due to his unconventional strategy, modelling his chances has an additional degree of uncertainty associated with it. It should also be noted that these figures will be changing regularly, so you should check the link for up to date projections.)


Only two states have had voted (/whatever you want to call what happened in Iowa) so far. Bloomberg was not on those ballots because he did not file.

According to wiki he announced on November 24, 2019. The filing deadline for some early states had passed- for example New Hampshire was November 12. Bloomberg did start some filings before he announced, to get on in Alabama, Michigan, and Arkansas for example.

The big delegate haul is "Super Tuesday" March 3 (corrected). He is on those ballots and has been in California for example campaigning.

It's a risk. The early states have few delegates but set the tone and momentum. On the other hand, he does not have to worry about donors abandoning him for a poor/no showing- he has one donor (himself). Momentum is another story. But hes getting mentioned in the press due to the anticipation. IMO, Bloomberg will be helped by the apparent demise of Biden in the early states. Voters and kingmakers looking for an old moderate white guy can slide on over. We'll see.

For historical reference, other candidates have tried a strategy and failed. Al Gore (D) in 1988 focused on the southern states of Super Tuesday (he's from Tennessee). Rudy Giuliani (R) in 2008 campaigned in New Hampshire but was counting on Florida and then New York and it's neighbors Connecticut and New Jersey to propel him. Neither was the nominee.

  • 7
    I think the technically correct term for what happened in Iowa is "caucused". It's not a secret ballot, it's a public meeting that is a show of support, called a caucus, so as of this writing, New Hampshire has voted, and Iowa has caucused.
    – user151841
    Feb 14, 2020 at 17:41
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    @user151841 That's not what Damila is referring to. There were numerous errors in the tally and the DNC openly stated that those errors were not going to be corrected. Plus a lot of other irregularities too long to mention in a comment. Feb 21, 2020 at 22:10
  • @dan-klasson I agree that Iowa was a debacle, but still, it's incorrect to say that Iowa voted; it's a caucus state. They caucused.
    – user151841
    Feb 24, 2020 at 13:44
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    @user151841 That was why I had the parenthetical "/whatever you want to call what happened in Iowa." I should have put "voted" in quotes to be more clear. I agree with both of you. My main point was that only two states had held their event, which is what was relevant to the OP question. Since that time, the subject of the OP has been in a debate, another state has gone, etc.
    – Damila
    Feb 24, 2020 at 16:29

Probably the most realistic chance (or more reasonably, least unrealistic) is for the "powers that be" in the DNC to manipulate the convention.

Suppose that there is a strong current of dislike for the front-runner at the convention. For example, maybe it's Sanders, and people think he's too socialist to win. They may think that their best shot at defeating Trump is somebody more "establishment." This had previously been Biden, but Biden is doing less than stellar. So the power-brokers might "flex" and pull some dirty tricks. And Bloomberg might wind up pushed forward.

Whether such a thing would be acceptable and workable would depend on such things as what pressure they could place on the front runner. For example, Sanders eventually endorsed Clinton. If they could induce him to do the same for Bloomberg, it might be possible. It would burn a lot of political capital. Many people would be very upset over it, just as they were in the case of Sanders vs. Clinton. But the power-brokers might think it worth it to try to unseat Trump.

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    Probably the most realistic chance (or more reasonably, least unrealistic) is for the "powers that be" in the DNC to manipulate the convention. I think it's a bit early to say that. Bloomberg needs another 1,991 delegates to secure the nomination. The current leader - Pete Buttigieg - needs another 1,966. That's hardly an insurmountable lead.
    – Just Me
    Feb 13, 2020 at 17:52
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    Data: Bloomberg has not yet run in a primary. Conclusion: He's destined to serve 2 terms as president. <big wide sarcastic grin>
    – puppetsock
    Feb 14, 2020 at 14:28
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    Given 2016's results? Yeah, that just might be the way to bet.
    – Just Me
    Feb 14, 2020 at 14:55
  • @JustMe Do you mean all the people who skipped the first two primaries in 2016 and wound up president? Um...
    – puppetsock
    Feb 14, 2020 at 19:31

Iowa and New Hampshire are first, but they're also relatively tiny.

According to Wikipedia, there are 3,979 pledged delegates and 771 superdelegates in the Democratic primary. So far, only Iowa and New Hampshire have voted. Iowa has 41 (normal, elected) delegates and New Hampshire has 24. So, around 1.3% of delegates have been decided so far.

Bloomberg presumably decided to let the other candidates spend their money on IA and NH for their relatively small number of delegates and instead focus his campaign on the states that vote on 'Super Tuesday,' (i.e. March 3.) While the votes so far were for 65 delegates, the votes on Super Tuesday are for 1,319 delegates, almost 28% of all of the delegates.

A strong performance on Super Tuesday could mean far more for Bloomberg's campaign than one in Iowa or New Hampshire would have.

Given his wealth, notoriety, and political connections, Bloomberg could also end up with a decent amount of support from the Democratic Party's 'superdelegates,' who are party power brokers who can vote in the convention for whoever they want regardless of primary and caucus votes. These represent a bit over 16% of the overall delegates, so a strong showing from the superdelegates could also sway the convention significantly toward Bloomberg.


Another strike against the super-early states is that their nominations are notoriously wrong

Since the caucuses began in 1972, there have been 18 caucus winners between the two parties: 10 Democrats and 8 Republicans. More than half of those winners went on to secure their party's nomination in that cycle, but only three would go on to be elected president.

After Iowa and New Hampshire, Pete Buttigieg is leading the delegate count at 23, with 1991 needed to win the nomination. Super Tuesday (which is what Bloomberg is blitzing with media buys) has 1,357 delegates at stake. Five Thirty Eight currently gives Bloomberg an 8% chance of winning, while Buttigieg (who technically won Iowa in delegates) is at 4%. Real Clear Politics poll average shows Bloomberg at 14.2% and Buttigieg at 10.6%

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    I would not say "nominations are notoriously wrong", that would be like saying everyone who voted for a canidate who did not win was 'wrong' and that is not right. Feb 14, 2020 at 18:32
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    @JamesJenkins In the grand scheme, yes. But Iowa has a "favorite state" exception by being first. If Iowa were part of Super Tuesday, nobody would pay much attention to it otherwise.
    – Machavity
    Feb 14, 2020 at 18:44

To answer the specific question of the title: He could do the same thing Ross Perot did in 1992 -- which is to say, he could run as an independent.

I don't know enough about American politics to say if that avenue would still be open to him if he's rejected by one or more established parties, though.

  • 2
    Many US states have what are called "sore loser" laws that bar candidates who run for but do not receive a party's nomination from later running as an independent candidate for that same office. See ballotpedia.org/Sore_loser_laws_in_the_50_states Whether or not those laws apply to being a candidate for President is probably an unsettled legal question.
    – Just Me
    Feb 14, 2020 at 14:58
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    He has already stated repeatedly that if he is not the Democratic nominee, he plans to use the money he would've spent on his own campaign to support whoever the nominee is, so turning around and running as an independent would be very much contrary to his stated intentions. Feb 14, 2020 at 15:00

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