Billionaire Mike Bloomberg is spoiling for a one-on-one showdown with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. And one scenario Bloomberg and his advisers are envisioning would see Sanders win more votes than Bloomberg — perhaps substantially more votes — with Bloomberg nonetheless securing the nomination at a brokered convention.

Can we point out how absurd it is that Bloomberg’s people are actively working toward this endgame, even before he has competed in a single primary?

Mike Bloomberg is privately lobbying Democratic Party officials and donors allied with his moderate opponents to flip their allegiance to him — and block Bernie Sanders — in the event of a brokered national convention.
The effort, largely executed by Bloomberg’s senior state-level advisers in recent weeks, attempts to prime Bloomberg for a second-ballot contest at the Democratic National Convention in July by poaching supporters of Joe Biden and other moderate Democrats, according to two Democratic strategists familiar with the talks and unaffiliated with Bloomberg.

Bloomberg advisers concede that Sanders is likely to emerge with a delegate lead after the Super Tuesday contests on March 3. At that point, around 40 percent of the total delegates will have been parceled out.

So there’s a reasonable chance Sanders could have racked up an insurmountable lead at that point.

After all the voting is done, how might Bloomberg prevail at the convention, even if Sanders has won more delegates from the voting itself?

Basically, what would have to happen is that at the end, Sanders would have gotten only a plurality of the pledged delegates, falling short of the 1,991 delegates he needs to secure a majority. If he fails to get this majority on the first ballot at the convention, then an additional 770 or so superdelegates will be added to the voting on the second convention ballot.

For Bloomberg to deny Sanders the nomination in circumstances where Sanders won a plurality of pledged delegates, he’d have to both win a sizable total of delegates himself from the primary voting, and scoop in delegates from other candidates as they drop out.

Theoretically, that is possible. Candidates exiting the race (say, former vice president Joe Biden; former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg; and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar) could endorse Bloomberg, and their delegates would probably go to him. Pledged delegates are not required to do what their candidates say, but there would be great pressure on them to do so, and they likely would.

Numerous things would have to go right for Bloomberg for this to work. He’d have to do very well in the primary voting himself. Most of the other candidates would have to back him — and remember, candidates like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, should she falter, would be more likely to back Sanders, and we don’t know that Biden, Buttigieg or Klobuchar would endorse Bloomberg.

But if those things were to happen, at that point, Bloomberg could win in one of two ways. He could either gain a majority of delegates in the first convention ballot, by amassing so many from other candidates that he surpassed Sanders’s plurality. Or no one would get a majority, and there would be a second convention ballot, and Bloomberg could win with the help of superdelegates (imagine the outcry under those circumstances).

It’s more likely that Sanders will end up winning a majority outright. But a scenario in which Bloomberg wins is at least a possibility.

As an aside, many other things might happen. Bloomberg could be deeply damaged after his disastrous debate, and someone like a resurgent Biden could become the moderate alternative to Sanders. Or, alternatively, Warren could rebound and complicate Sanders’s march to a delegate win. And so on.

Bloomberg winning at a contested convention is highly unlikely. But it’s not impossible. And his team is trying to lay the groundwork for it.

So to recap, here’s where we are: Bloomberg isn’t even competing in the first four contests. Having been a Republican, he decided to use his massive fortune to try to swamp the Democratic primary process with spending, after the other candidates spent a year communicating with voters. Worse, this could become an effort to use that fortune to drown Sanders’s huge grass-roots small-donor fundraising success, which is itself a major pro-democracy achievement.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg just released a video deceptively edited to make it look as if the other candidates were flummoxed by Bloomberg’s claim that he is the only one who has started a business. This attack on the Democrats isn’t just dishonest; it absurdly portrays their experiences (as senators, a vice president, a Rust Belt mayor and so forth) as somehow inferior to his business background.

Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg posted a video from the Feb. 19 Democratic debate that was edited to show a prolonged silence that never happened. (The Washington Post)

Now Bloomberg’s advisers are plotting a brokered convention strategy to take the nomination from the person who wins the most votes, even before he has competed in a single primary.

It could work. But as the Politico piece notes, such an outcome would likely cause the convention to “devolve into chaos.” It’s hard to see how the delegates themselves would want this to happen, since it would badly harm the party’s chance of beating President Trump, which is paramount.

And it’s highly likely that large numbers of Democratic voters would find this outcome entirely unacceptable.

Does any of this weigh on Bloomberg? Apparently not.

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