Bloomberg is about to spend big attacking Trump

First up, although Michael Bloomberg has not technically announced his candidacy—at least, not at the moment I say this—he has announced a very remarkable advertising campaign. In a story for The New York Times by Shane Goldmacher, we learn that he’s about to drop the biggest ad-spend of the campaign. Reading from the Times:

“Michael R. Bloomberg still has not declared whether he is running for president in 2020. He is about to become the single biggest spender in the presidential race anyway.
Ahead of a potential campaign announcement, Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman and former mayor of New York City, // is beginning a $100 million [dollar] digital campaign designed to attack and define President Trump in the top battleground states seen as likely to decide the 2020 election. The ads will go online on Friday in four states — Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and run through the end of the primary season, even if Mr. Bloomberg is not in the race.
In a twist, Mr. Bloomberg himself will not be featured in the ads beyond legally required disclaimers, even as he actively lays the groundwork for a campaign, his advisers said. The $100 million [dollar] ad buy will be in addition to whatever Mr. Bloomberg may spend on efforts to promote himself to become the Democratic nominee.”

For context, the article goes on to explain that President Trump has already spent $27 million dollars on Facebook and Google ads alone. His campaign has well over $150 million dollars in cash on hand, and is rapidly raising more. But this move by Bloomberg tops all the spending we’ve seen so far, and it’s just the beginning.

The other key context for all of this is that Bloomberg spent roughly $100 million dollars on the 2018 midterm elections, so this level of spending is not new for him. However, spending it now, preemptively and without his name prominently attached, is a move many Democrats will welcome.

One final note on this, explaining why Bloomberg is targeting those four states. If a Democratic presidential candidate ends up with the same exact electoral map as the 2016 election, flipping any three of the four targeted states would swing the election.

A new poll tells us about Bloomberg’s national numbers

While we’re talking Bloomberg, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll is out. This poll is notable because it covers a large, nationwide sample, over the period from Tuesday through Thursday this week. By the way, yes, expect polls to start coming out more frequently as we get closer to Iowa. Okay, so this poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent among Democratic voters, and that’s who we care about most for the Democratic primary.

Bloomberg got 3% of Democratic voters nationally, which is pretty rough, but not absolutely terrible. If that holds up in other polls, both nationally and in early voting states, then Bloomberg has a narrow path to at least show up in the debates at some point. Can he win? Well, I don’t see any data indicating that now. But he’s not even technically running yet.

So, the big picture here is Bloomberg has SOME support nationally, according to one recent poll. It’s not strong support, but it’s something.

This poll did NOT include Deval Patrick, though I expect to see polling with Patrick in the coming days.

Bevin officially concedes in Kentucky

Here’s a followup to last week’s election in Kentucky. As I reported then, Kentucky governor Matt Bevin refused to concede the race on election night. Instead, he asked for a “recanvass,” which is a quick kind of re-tally of the vote, without the full expense and time of an official recount. Remember that this election was decided by roughly 5,000 votes in favor of Democrat Andy Beshear.

Well, the recanvass is complete, the outcome did not change, and a variety of Republicans publicly suggested that Bevin should concede. He went ahead and did that yesterday morning. Outside his office, he told reporters:

"Politics was never intended to be a career for anybody, nor should it be. I truly want the best for Andy Beshear as he moves forward. I genuinely want him to be successful, I want the state to be successful."

Beshear will be sworn in as the 63rd governor of Kentucky on Tuesday, December 10th.

Booker says he doesn’t want the new pro-Booker Super PAC

Here’s a fun one. This morning, writing for CNN, Rebecca Buck reported that a new super PAC called United We Win had committed to spending $1 million dollars to help Senator Cory Booker reach the December DNC debate stage. We’ll talk more about the polling on that debate later in today’s show.

Reading from CNN:

“United We Win, which was formed Wednesday with the backing of New Jersey-based Democratic donors and consultants, "is supported by individuals who know Cory and have seen the transformative impact that has been made by his leadership and dedication to doing what's right, from Newark to Washington," said Philip Swibinski, a spokesperson for the group.
The super PAC made a splash Thursday with an initial digital ad buy of more than $154,000 [dollars] nationally. The group plans to spend $1 million [dollars] over the next month, Swibinski said, with digital ads geared toward attracting small-dollar donors to help Booker meet the DNC's threshold for the next debate.”

Okay, right on, another super PAC in the game. After all, Joe Biden has one, so why not? Well, Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel asked Booker what he thought about this new group. Booker’s response?

"I do not want super PACs in this race for anybody, including me."

Okay, so then Buck, who broke the news in the first place, tweeted back:

“F[or what it’s worth], the group's [spokesperson] told me they wouldn't change course even if Booker publicly rejected their help.”

And that goes right back to that explainer I did about PACs versus super PACs back on the October 29thepisode. That’s the weird thing about a super PAC. You can tell them to stop, but they do not have to. Link to that show in the show notes, in case you’re curious.

The Trump impeachment stuff in five minutes or less

And now, the impeachment news in….well, let’s just say FIVE minutes or less. Going SLIGHTLY long this time.

Today, former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified in open hearings in the House. Right before she appeared, the White House released yet another summary of a phone call between President Trump and then-President-elect Zelensky of Ukraine. I have read that summary, and, to be frank, there is nothing notable about that call. There’s a link in the show notes if you want to read it, but let’s move on.

As Yovanovitch began testifying today, it was clear that Trump was watching. We know this because he began tweeting about the proceedings and criticizing the witness. This was a bit unexpected, because part of the testimony was specifically about how the witness had allegedly been the subject of a smear campaign by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer. She was also the subject of negative comments by the president himself. And at times she had feared for her own safety because of this. After the president’s tweets went out, someone printed them, and Chairman Adam Schiff passed them around the room while the testimony continued.

I’m going to play a clip here. I think this is the best summary of today’s hearing you’re gonna get. This manages to combine the witness’s professional history, some specific context around her testimony, plus a notable event that happened in real time and may very well lead to a NEW article of impeachment. Daniel Goldman, the lawyer for the Democrats, speaks first. Then Yovanovitch replies, then Schiff speaks. Listen in.


Moments later, Senator Kamala Harris tweeted part of that clip and wrote, “Witness intimidation is a crime.”

Which candidates still need to qualify for December’s DNC debate

Okay, quick check on who has qualified for the December DNC debate. Right now, that list is pretty slim. It’s just Biden, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Warren.

However, there are three candidates who are on the cusp of making it, and technically, given the volume of new polling come out, there could be some kind of new rising star effect here where somebody with zero polls—like Booker or Patrick or Bloomberg—somehow makes it to four polls and gets in real quick. Reading from a Twitter thread by Zach Montellaro of Politico:

“...[W]e could have as many as FIVE early-state qualifying polls that count towards the December debate coming out this weekend. We know the Iowa [Des Moines Register] poll is coming out on Saturday evening, and we'll have to wait and see what individual states CBS releases.

So watch this space to see if [Gabbard], [Steyer], and [Yang] hit the December polling threshold. Gabbard and Steyer each need 1 poll and more donors, and Yang needs 2 polls. At this point, I think we're looking at all three qualifying for Dec[ember].”

And if they all do qualify, that would mean nine people on stage.

How to watch next week’s November DNC debate

Last up today, let’s talk about next week’s DNC debate. First up, date and time. It’s Wednesday, November 20th from 9pm to 11pm Eastern time. For our international listeners, the start time is actually 0200 hours UTC on Thursday.

The debate is hosted by The Washington Post and MSNBC. The four moderators will be Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Kristen Welker, and Ashley Parker. The event will be held at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.

Okay, so how can you watch this thing? It will air on MSNBC, plus it will stream on MSNBC dot com, WashingtonPost dot com, and will show up on the NBC and Washington Post apps for iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and probably some others I’m forgetting. I have not seen any YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter streaming option, though those MIGHT pop up early next week. At the moment it looks like you’re gonna need an app of some sort, or a browser, or, you know, cable.

And next up, we do have Debate Bingo! It’s the first link in the show notes. Again, we have thirty randomized bingo cards, and they show the podium order across the top. There are ten candidates debating on Wednesday, and none of them are NEW to the stage, though the two candidates we’ll miss from last time are Julián Castro and Beto O’Rourke.

A quick note on Debate Bingo—I’m not going to do live Twitter coverage this time. Instead, HQ will be focused on making the next day’s roundup show while we watch. But, never fear, the cards are there, the hashtag is there, and y’all are free to tweet as you wish. Take it away, my bingo-playing buddies.

Well, that is it for one more episode of the Election Ride Home. I have been your host, Chris Higgins. You can always find me on Twitter @chrishiggins. Long week again, right? One thing that jumped out at me today was the effect of Twitter on the news cycle. We had news breaking, and candidates reacting, and the president reacting, and reporters reacting to candidates and one another, all basically in real-time. When I was a kid, we thought the cable TV news cycle was way too fast. Well at this point, my head is just on permanent spin. As always, thanks for listening, and I will talk to y’all on MONDAY.