After South Carolina, One Billionaire Drops Out of the 2020 Race
Out with the old and in with the new: After turning in an abysmal showing in South Carolina’s Democratic primary on Saturday, billionaire Tom Steyer has suspended his campaign for the nomination. But just as Steyer dropped out, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will officially jump in; this Tuesday will mark the first swath of states where Bloomberg’s name will actually be on the ballot. Although, given the polling in the Super Tuesday states, Bloomberg’s shot at winning the nomination may be no better than Steyer’s.
“I got into this race for a really, really good reason,” Steyer said, without evidence. He told the crowd that he wanted to run for president because people were not “adequately addressing racial injustice in this country.”
Which was, to our recollection, the first time we’d noticed that racial injustice was one of Steyer’s main campaign themes. That’s probably on us.
“I said if I didn’t see a path to winning, that I’d suspend my campaign,” Steyer continued. “Honestly, I can’t see a path where I can win the presidency.”
Most observers could have told Steyer that back in October (if not earlier), but apparently he had to blow $200 million to figure it out for himself. In South Carolina alone, Steyer poured nearly $24 million into a campaign that included television/radio ads and direct mailers. This strategy only netted him 11% of the vote on Saturday night, less than the amount he needed to pick up even a single delegate.
Steyer said he would turn his attention to supporting whoever wound up winning the nomination.
“I’ve said from the beginning, every Democrat is a million times better than Trump. Trump is a disaster,” he said. “And let me say this: I mean, we’re in South Carolina. Lindsey Graham’s a disaster. He’s a disaster for the people here, so of course, I’m going to be working on that.”
Steyer’s run for the presidency was largely seen as redundant, unfocused, and unnecessary. At FiveThirtyEight, they wrote:
Steyer, a billionaire from his previous career as a hedge fund manager, spent the years before his presidential run pushing two causes in particular: efforts to mitigate climate change and the impeachment of President Trump. But Steyer’s presidential campaign wasn’t particularly focused on either issue — or anything else. He embraced some more liberal ideas (a wealth tax) and opposed others (Medicare for All). He cast himself as a populist while also emphasizing his business experience. He touted his electability and his commitment to fighting climate change, but not in ways that were particularly unique compared to the other candidates.
Steyer was the first Democratic candidate to drop out this week, but he probably won’t be the last. After the Super Tuesday results roll in, it will be time for Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren to hit the skids…and maybe Bloomberg as well. And if Joe Biden can’t capitalize on the momentum from his win in South Carolina, he may also have to look for the exit.
Right now, this looks like Bernie Sanders’ nomination to lose.
God help us all.