Why Do Wealthy Moderate Democrats Keep Joining the Presidential Race?

Wow…I picked a hell of a year to start covering political betting . The 2020 Democratic primaries may be one of the weirdest contests in the history of our nation – and it’s only getting stranger.

It doesn’t help that just as the massive field of candidates is beginning to narrow, wealthy “moderates” are deciding to join the race — and fairly late in the process! Meanwhile, I find myself left with more questions than answers.

  • Who was looking for Deval Patrick and Michael Bloomberg?
  • To whom would they possibly appeal?
  • What are they hoping to accomplish with these late bids?
  • Is the Democratic Party flooding the field with more centrist/moderate types for a reason?

According to the polls, Democrats already like the candidates they have; so, why are these men insisting on participating now?

Part of me thinks DNC officials really are tone-deaf and delusional enough to believe that if they keep throwing new moderates at the electorate that voters will finally just forget about Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, taxing the wealthy, and health care reforms.

But that can’t be right, can it? These major parties hire the top political strategists in the world, coming out of the best Ivy League schools – surely, they’re more in touch with the modern political landscape in the US than this! There must be some deeper meaning or larger plan in place that I’m just not seeing!

Whatever the case, these late entrants impact the 2020 election betting odds, so we have to discuss them. I have to imagine they’ll make their mark on the primaries – if not the general elections – in some way before it’s all said and done; I’m just not sure I understand how or why.

A Party Divided

The democratic primaries becoming an insane mess is a symptom of a much larger class divide that’s been manifesting itself in a variety of different ways all around the globe for several years now.

Everything from Occupy Wall Street, to the creation of the Tea Party, to Brexit, Bernie Sanders’ surprising success in 2016, and Donald Trump becoming President of the United States are all coming from the same place: wealth inequality.

Here are some statistics that paint a clearer picture of where America stands today:
  • Three men (Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffet) own as much wealth as the bottom 50% of Americans combined.
  • 78% of US workers live paycheck to paycheck .
  • Over the last 30 years, wage inequality in the United States has increased substantially, with the overall level of inequality now approaching the extreme level that prevailed prior to the Great Depression.
  • Recent decades have seen a clear increase in the difference between CEO compensation and that of the average worker in manufacturing or “production.” CEOs in 1965 made 24 times more than the average production worker, whereas in 2009 they made 185 times more.
  • There are 750,000 Americans who are homeless on any given night, with one in five of them considered chronically homeless
  • In the United States, 21 percent of all children are in poverty, a poverty rate higher than what prevails in virtually all other rich nations.
  • The net worth of US households and non-profit organizations was $94.7 trillion in the first quarter of 2017, a record level both in nominal terms and purchasing power parity.
  • If divided equally among 124 million US households, this would be $760,000 per family; however, the bottom 50% of families, representing 62 million American households, average $11,000 net worth .
  • About 10% of full-time workers are in low-wage jobs, about 30% don’t have health insurance, and about 40% don’t have pensions.
  • The percentage of all wage and salary workers who are union members has declined from 24% in 1973 to 12.4% in 2008. The decline in the private sector was steeper than the decline in the public sector. At the same time, as union membership declined, the real value of the minimum wage also fell by 25% in the 1980s, leading to a weakening influence of the minimum wage on the low-wage labor market.

As you can see, people are struggling out there. When I look back at the 2016 election, it’s no wonder just being “not-Trump” wasn’t enough to put Hillary Clinton in the White House. People are pissed and looking for increasingly dramatic ways to impact change.

After Obama finished eight years in the Oval Office without delivering on a fraction of his original campaign promises, the electorate seems to have changed their approach. Working-class democratic voters feel left behind and are now asking for something more in exchange for their support than vague generalities about “change” and “togetherness.”

The result has been a massive progressive movement with a significant portion of Democratic voters moving further left. Candidates who would have been laughed off the debate stage twenty years ago for their “socialist” ideas are now some of the DNC’s most popular choices.

Unfortunately, the establishment Democrats who own the party and the media aren’t too thrilled with the idea of being taxed and asked to contribute to the large social projects for which some voters are asking.

One Party, Two Different Political Visions

So, now you have half the electorate preferring the more traditional “moderates” or centrists like Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Pete Buttigieg, while the other half wants someone like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Andrew Yang.

These two groups don’t seem to like each other very much. Since 2016, the progressives have argued that their candidate of choice – Bernie Sanders – was the only person with the support and the plan to defeat Trump. Furthermore, they weren’t willing to elect another establishment “limousine liberal” who would ultimately ignore the workers of America.

On the other side of the coin, you have voters who are either scared of socialism (for a variety of reasons), are affluent and thus can afford to be more concerned with identity politics and social issues than wealth inequality, or merely prioritize beating Trump above all else – believing that it takes someone closer to the center to win the general election still.

Since the Democratic Party elite consists primarily of wealthy people, they tend to prefer moderate candidates who are pro-bank, pro-war, pro-big pharma, and pro-big business in general. The only topics that separate them from their Republican counterparts are their stances on a handful of highly polarizing social issues.

The progressives think the DNC loyalists should wake up to the direction the party – and the world — is heading and accept one of their candidates. Traditional centrist democrats think the liberals should be more realistic and at least get behind a Dem for the sake of removing Donald Trump from office.

This conflict played itself out in the 2016 primaries — which resulted in 20% of Bernie Sanders’ supporters either voting for Trump or a third-party candidate in the general elections – and it’s happening again.

Bernie Sanders remains in the top-three in all of the polling, while the DNC desperately keeps trying to find someone else. At the moment, they’re propping Joe Biden up as the frontrunner, with Pete Buttigieg showing some fight in third or fourth (depending on the poll). Elizabeth Warren enjoyed a brief stint in the lead but fell off after she pivoted to the center to appease the moderates.

Where Do the New Guys Fit In?

The enduring success of a progressive like Senator Sanders seems to be a core concern for the rich candidates who joined the race recently. But what are they hoping to accomplish? Surely, they can’t expect to beat him with the same centrist message that keeps failing for everyone else, right?

With neither side willing to compromise, how can the Democrats possibly hope to win? From the research I’ve done, I suspect businessmen like Bloomberg and Patrick would prefer another four years of Trump than a Bernie Sanders administration. If so, why not run as a third-party spoiler candidate later on instead of bothering with the democratic primaries?

Michael Bloomberg

2020 Election Betting Odds
  • To Win the Democratic Nomination +900
  • To Win the Presidential Election +1600
  • Odds found at Bovada

Michael Bloomberg is the former Mayor of New York City and the 9th richest man in the US (14th richest in the world), with a net worth of roughly $58 billion. The founder of Bloomberg LP, a media company specializing in financial news, claims to have been a registered Democrat for most of his life, but ran as a Republican for his first one-and-a-half Mayor terms, before leaving the GOP in 2007.

In terms of his present-day politics, he’s your typical neoliberal – pro-big business and free trade, but socially liberal on issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and immigration. He’s also a staunch supporter of stricter gun control laws.

After announcing his candidacy, a memo leaked to the public in which Bloomberg’s (the media company) Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait shared the following info with the editorial staff:

We will continue our tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and foundation), and we will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries. We cannot treat Mike’s democratic competitors differently from him.

So, an oligarch’s news agency is planning not only to ignore covering their owner’s candidacy but the entire Democratic field. We live in a political climate where some people think it’s acceptable only to cover one side of the aisle. In response, the Trump administration has revoked all of Bloomberg News’ press credentials.

Either way, I don’t see how Michael Bloomberg can possibly spend his way to a Democratic nomination. Too much of the party will resent the way he’s bought his way into the primaries. Last week he outspent the entire rest of the field combined on TV advertisements, but he’s still polling in the single digits.

Deval Patrick

2020 Election Betting Odds
  • To Win the Democratic Nomination +5000
  • To Win the Presidential Election +8000
  • Odds found at bet365

Nothing says “progressive democrat” like being the recently-resigned CEO of Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s private equity firm. Actually, Patrick never claimed to be progressive; he’s another rich man whose politics are self-described as “closer to the ideological center than to the left.”

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t a clue what Deval Patrick is hoping to achieve with this late entry into the primaries. He seems to be attempting the same Obama campaign game plan that Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and Cory Booker have all either tried or are currently trying.

Patrick makes comments like, “I don’t think that wealth is the problem. I think greed is the problem,” and “taxes should go up on the most prosperous and the most fortunate,” but “not as a penalty.” These are basically empty calories – substance-less positions meant to appeal to the affluent DNC establishment voters while inspiring a modicum of hope in a certain percentage of gullible working-class democrats.

Before he was an executive at Bain Capital, Deval worked at Ameriquest – one of the main perpetrators of the predatory lending practices that caused the 2008 financial crisis. If he ever becomes a serious candidate, this will certainly be used against him — alienating Patrick from the working classes on the right and left alike. I have no clue to whom this campaign is meant to appeal, but I can’t imagine it’ll be around for long.

Tom Steyer

2020 Election Betting Odds
  • To Win the Democratic Nomination +12500
  • To Win the Presidential Election +20000
  • Odds found at Bovada

Tom Steyer is just an honorable mention since he at least had the decency to announce his campaign back in July. Steyer is a billionaire hedge fund manager and founder of Farallon Capital. At least his $1.6 billion net worth doesn’t seem so outrageous next to Bloomberg’s obscene wealth.

It’s also worth noting that despite being a billionaire, Steyer has made some policy proposals that are a bit more progressive than his wealthy peers.

For example, he released an affordable housing plan that calls for $47 billion per year to be invested in the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund, as well as an increase in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

He’s also in favor of a public option with regard to health care . His campaign website says, “Tom’s public option will be administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which charges a far lower overhead than private insurers, but be fiscally separate from Medicare and Medicaid. It will enable the government to negotiate health care costs directly with medical groups and providers, just like Medicare does today.”

Despite appearing to be the most progressive of the billionaires to buy their way into the presidential campaign, Tom Steyer is unlikely to be much of a factor moving forward, as his betting odds suggest.

What’s the Plan?

As far as I can tell, there are two possibilities for why these wealthy centrist candidates would join the democratic race this late in the game:

  • 1) The DNC truly believes that eventually a moderate will appear that can reunite the party without making any waves for the wealthy members; or
  • 2) Candidates like Bloomberg and Patrick are meant to pull the discussions surrounding the election further to the right, providing contrast for candidates like Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

That way, if Joe makes it through the primaries without melting down, or Hillary needs to join the race later on, these old-school establishment-Dems will look downright progressive in comparison to their wealthy competition. If a statistically significant number of left-leaning voters get scared into seeing Biden or Clinton as a liberal compromise, that’s a huge win for the Democratic Party.

I’m guessing they’re essentially Trojan Horse candidates, meant to push option two. They’re also well-funded enough to act as a threat to Bernie Sanders supporters. Should he win the nomination, I won’t be surprised if Bloomberg happily runs as a third-party spoiler. Whatever he pays for the campaign will be worth avoiding any potential taxes on his wealth.

Nothing highlights that massive growing schism in the democratic party than uber-rich candidates appearing just to ensure no significant changes happen. None of the men discussed in this article are worth betting on, but all of them could play a role in how things play out from here.

I’d argue that their mere presence shows the DNC’s desperation to squeeze out Senator Sanders as a potential nomination. I may not know what their precise plan is with these candidates, but I know they exist to maintain the status quo. Fade Bernie accordingly at the political betting sites.

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Will Cormier / Author

Will Cormier is a sports and political betting writer living in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. When he’s not wandering around the streets of the Arts District aimlessly, a lifetime of pessimism and paranoia has made Will perfectly suited for handicapping politics. Cormier tries to analyze current events as objectively as possible – a strategy that often enrages loyalists on both the right and the left. When he’s not covering major upcoming elections, Will enjoys writing about basketball, football, and MMA from a betting perspective. He also loves dogs, ice cream sundaes, the movie “Stomp the Yard,” and long walks on the beach.

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