Respected pollster and political strategist Frank Luntz said as Super Tuesday approaches, billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg “will be the only person able to compete in California, in Texas and in some of the other big states.”
Forbes estimates Bloomberg’s wealth at $54 billion.“And he has the ability to spend it on Super Tuesday,” said Luntz on Yahoo Finance’s On the Move, “At a time when all the other candidates are going to be virtually bankrupt. Super Tuesday offers 40% of the Democratic delegates.”
However, Luntz warned that Bloomberg’s wealth may not be an asset. “The problem is that Democrats don’t like billionaires,” he said. “And Democrats surely don’t like billionaires, who are ex-mayors, who are politicians as well as people who made money.”
Polling data shows 75% of the country support raising taxes on billionaires and 62% support raising taxes on the top 1%, Luntz pointed out. “In fact, Mike Bloomberg actually is running against those things that a majority of Democrats support.”
Bloomberg said he is “running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America.” Bloomberg is one of the candidates trying to push the Democratic party to the political center. His statements, “We have an economy that is tilted against most Americans. We have a health care system that costs too much and doesn’t cover everyone,” are key issues for Democratic voters.
Bloomberg supports increasing taxes on the rich, “people like me,” but dismisses the more comprehensive wealth tax proposals being pushed by his opponents Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders saying, “it just doesn’t work.”
A recent Hill-HarrisX poll showed Bloomberg passing Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in support among likely Democratic Party voters, but trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, Sanders, Warren and Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Harris dropped out of the race Tuesday afternoon, telling supporters, “I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign,” which Bloomberg is doing.
Path to victory
Luntz who is known for crafting political talking points and his work with Republican candidates has some advice about polling data for the Democrats who are hoping to win their party’s nomination. “I don’t care what the national numbers show,” he said. “What matters is Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan. They matter most.”
He pointed out that along with those states, “Ohio, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Arizona are the states that are going to determine the election.” Donald Trump won all of those states except New Hampshire in 2016.
It’s one of the reasons Luntz said Democrats are proposing tax increases on billionaires. “They want to send a message that the Republicans are in the pockets of the wealthy and they alternatively support the working class,” he said.
Luntz noted that winning a primary is different than winning a presidential election and may have nothing to do with a candidate’s net worth.
When American voters head to the polls next year to vote for president, “we are going to have the most angry, bitter, cynical nasty electorate. It’s going to feel like my house on Thanksgiving Day,” he joked. “Everyone is just going to be pissed off with everybody else.”
When asked who might win the presidency next year, Luntz admittedly ducked the question and pointed to the impeachment scandal as a deciding factor.
“I don’t think the president understands how much this impeachment is hurting him among independent voters, among people who voted for him in the last election only because they disliked Hillary Clinton,” he said. “But I don’t think the Democrats realize that the public sees this investigation and the impeachment as purely partisan and not necessarily grounded in fact.”
Adam Shapiro is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance On the Move.