Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is trying a novel strategy to win the Democratic presidential nomination. The former New York City mayor, who was a Republican up until 2013, is skipping the first four races completely and has bet big on Super Tuesday—when a third of the delegates are up for grabs—and the primaries that come after. Bloomberg, who is worth about $61 billion, has already put $460 million into his campaign so far, blowing the rest of the candidates out of the water.
With its 415 pledged delegates, California is one of the big prizes on Super Tuesday, and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders currently has a commanding lead in polls there. According to
FiveThirtyEight, recent polls have Sanders in first, with an average of 26.7 percent, while Bloomberg comes up second with 14.4 percent—15 percent is the threshold to qualify for any delegates.
To bolster his support there, the Los Angeles Times reports, the campaign has hired 500 “deputy field organizers,” paying them $2,500 each to promote Bloomberg on social media to their friends and family. A Bloomberg spokesperson said in a statement that the goal is to meet “voters everywhere on any platform that they consume their news.”
Based on documents and interviews with some of these organizers, the Times found that many of them are using accounts that are only one or two months old, and that some have fewer than 20 followers. One organizer described the training they received, saying the campaign told them the average person has a network of 750 people on their phones. “They told us, ‘We want you to reach out to those friends you’re comfortable talking to and then also those friends you might not have talked to in a while, but might be interested in politics.'”
This is in line with some other unusual approaches that the Bloomberg campaign has taken so far, including funding a massive meme-production effort and a proposed $150 to social media micro-influencers to make content that “tells us why Mike Bloomberg is the electable candidate who can rise above the fray, work across the aisle so ALL Americans feel heard & respected,” according to the campaign’s listing.
Despite the $2,500 paycheck, “deputy field organizers” aren’t exactly turning out sizzling content. Per the Times:
Rather than create their own content, organizers often use the exact text, images and links provided to them by the campaign. The result has been a stiff outpouring of tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts with little to no engagement and sometimes half-hearted text messages. Some organizers were so robotic in their tweeting, Twitter suspended their accounts Friday evening after The Times inquired about whether their behavior complied with the platform’s rules on spam and manipulation.
One organizer in Los Angeles told the Times, “When I text my friends—depending on the friend—a lot of people think it’s spam or my account was hacked. Once people realize it’s actually me who’s making these and it’s not spam, they kind of just figure I’m being paid for it.”
At one point, another organizer texted his friends, “Sam Donaldson just nailed it: Mike Bloomberg is the president we need to unite our country!” using the exact wording suggested by the Bloomberg campaign. He promptly followed up with a text reading, “Please disregard, vote Bernie or Warren.”
Both Sanders and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren have proposed wealth taxes that would see billionaires like Bloomberg pay substantially more than they do now. So far, the $460 million the Bloomberg campaign has spent on ads, memes, influencers, and copy/paste promoters is a lot less than the $4.7 billion he would likely pay if Bernie Sanders became president.
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Contributed by Sean Walton of The Daily Sheeple.