Bloomberg ran as a Republican for mayor of New York City. His declared goal is to throw Trump out of office.

If this is his primary goal wouldn't it have been better to try to run against him in the Republican primary? If Bloomberg won against Trump, a reelection would not even be an option. If Bloomberg did not win, he still would have been able to spend all his anti-Trump ads and make the path to the presidency easier for the Democratic nominee.

So wouldn't it have been smarter for Bloomberg to run as a Republican?

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    How many times has someone run against their own party's incumbent and won?
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 1, 2020 at 21:24
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    @Mazura: the only one I remember is 1968, when Gene McCarthy ran against Lyndon Johnson. Johnson won New Hampshire, but later dropped out of the race. McCarthy did not win the nomination Commented Mar 1, 2020 at 22:11
  • 1
    Closely related question: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/34928/…
    – dan04
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 2:23
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    It may be worth recalling that Bloomberg was a Republican for only six years: he joined the party in 2001 and left it in 2007. Before 2001, he was a Democrat. Between 2007 and 2018, he was an independent. (But note that the Republican Party endorsed him in his last run for mayor, even though he was no longer a registered Republican.)
    – user697473
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 12:33
  • @Mazura Reagan in 1976 was very close to beating Ford, though he was only sort-of the incumbent.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 16:21

2 Answers 2


So wouldn't it be smarter for Bloomberg to run as a Republican?

No, for the simple reason that Donald Trump is incredibly popular with both the Republican Party and its voters. As of September 2019, Trump's approval rating among Republicans is 84%, and in the five Republican primaries run so far, he has earned 91.2% of the overall vote and all but one delegate.

Furthermore, several states including Nevada, South Carolina, and Kansas have actually cancelled their primaries entirely and are just going to pledge their delegates to Trump without holding a vote at all (the linked article claims this is "not unusual" for an incumbent seeking a second term). A few others, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts, have changed (or planned to change) to a "winner-takes-all" system whereby a candidate who earns more than 50% of the vote gains all the state's delegates, instead of the delegates being shared proportionately among the candidates.

All this would make it next to impossible for anyone to unseat Trump during the Republican primaries. Winning the Democratic nomination and going head-to-head against Trump in the main election is by far his best chance.

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    There's one missing fact here. Bloomberg founded the "Moms Demand" gun-control organization. That means he can't get the Republican nomination for POTUS, regardless of who he might be running against. Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 18:59
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    Another simple reason is that he believes he politically aligns more with Democrat ideology than Republican. Not the far left fringe, but the more moderate bulk. Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 19:58
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    @MontyHarder For accuracy, Michael Bloomberg and Thomas Menino founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Shannon Watts founded Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. They later merged to form Everytown for Gun Safety.
    – Batman
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 0:28
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    "Donald Trump is incredibly popular with both the Republican Party and its voters" - Fake news. 84% approval from his own party is actually on the low side, compared to that same metric amongst past presidents. Obama had 90% approval from Democrats. Dubya and Reagan both hit 94%+ approval from Republicans. Trump's 84 percent doesn't show an "incredible" level of support. Though it does make winning a primary against him as a GOP candidate virtually impossible, yes.
    – aroth
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 1:15
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    "in the five Republican primaries run so far, he has earned 91.2% of the overall vote" That's not exactly impressive for an incumbent President... let alone one who is running essentially unoppposed. Bill Weld isn't really even a Republican. He was the VP nominee for the Libertarian Party in 2016 and is ideologically more of a moderate Democrat than either a libertarian or a Republican. The fact that he received any significant percentage of GOP primary votes at all shows that Trump's support among the GOP is far from "incredible."
    – reirab
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 17:23

F1Krazy's answer is very good and deserves its upvotes, but it does seem to miss the crux of your confusion.

Your reasoning is

  1. Bloomberg's declared goal is to prevent Trump's reëlection.
  2. He could've run in either party's primary
  3. and
    1. Running in the Democratic primary leaves Trump assured of the Republican nomination and contributes to Democratic disunity.
    2. Running in the Republican primary would have contributed to Republican disunity and wouldn't have impeded the eventual Democratic nominee any more than necessary.
  4. Therefore, he should have run in the Republican primary.

I don't think F1Krazy's answer is really persuasive to you because you don't care if Bloomberg wins anything and it's clearly better for Team Anti-Trump if he mucks up the Republican process and stays the hell out of the Dems' way.

What you're missing is that Bloomberg's declared goal is patently not his actual goal. Bloomberg is not in this to remove Trump but to (ideally) win himself and (at minimum) hinder even worse* candidates like Sanders.

*From the point of billionaire technocrats like Bloomberg...

This is clear because Bloomberg never had to enter either primary: he could have just bankrolled PACs and moderate Democratic candidates. (For the reasons mentioned by F1Krazy, it would have probably been counterproductive to fund any Republican challenge: the inevitable steamrolling of such a challenge would have just boosted Trump's image and energized his base, the opposite of what the Dems need.)

Bloomberg didn't enter the race until late November, forced into an unprecidented media buy to make up for his abandonment of the early states, because up til then he'd been mostly fine with the inevitability of Biden winning the nomination. As Biden's polls collapsed in Iowa, Warren surged nationally, and Sanders held his own, Bloomberg saw that Bernie or someone similar could cruise to the nomination. The entire rationale of Bloomberg's Democratic primary campaign is not to defeat Trump at all costs but to (ideally) defeat Trump by (definitely) denying Sanders (or at the time of his announcement Warren) the ability to win the nomination on the first ballot. Once the second ballot opens up the race, he hopes to use the masses of goodwill his money has bought among the Democratic Party establishment to get the nomination or, at the very least, to assure Biden or a Biden-like compromise wins out.

If you want to be very kind to Bloomberg, you can imagine that all comes from a very sincere belief that Trump would crush Bernie and Bernie would crush the Dems' chances of taking control of Congress. Plenty of establishment Dems really do believe that. (Witness MSNBC's various meltdowns after Nevada, when Sanders proved his support among union members and the hispanic community.)

If you want to be less kind, you can take your pick between Bloomberg dreading an America in Sanders's image worse than four more years of Trump or Bloomberg being old and thinking this is his last best chance to win the presidency himself.

In any case, Bloomberg is patently not making choices that benefit Team Anti-Trump as a whole and, along with his execrable debate performances, that seems to have been noticed, with his net favorability among his new party at around -10%. You still can't ignore all the goodwill among the Democratic Party that his years of heavy financing have provided: if he doesn't completely collapse in the states he's heavily advertized in, he's a strong contender for winning a contested convention both as a form of payback and out of hope for lucrative positions in and around his administration.

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    Addendum: With Bloomberg's withdrawal from the race, it looks like lost his gamble on the effectiveness of advertizing and insiders alone. He was very concerned with Warren and Sanders, but seems to be fine with Biden getting a second wind.
    – lly
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 18:52

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