DETROIT – In the wake of an Iowa caucus debacle that has so far produced no winner, former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg authorized his advisers Tuesday morning to double television spending for his own presidential campaign, as his advisers have become more bullish on his odds of success.
The increase represents a massive escalation of what is already the most costly campaign for the Democratic nomination in U.S. history. The campaign has also been authorized to hire more staff, said a person familiar with the strategy.
Bloomberg told a noontime crowd here Tuesday that he was sleeping on a plane last night, woke up and asked an aide what had happened in the Iowa caucuses. He said the aide answered, “Nothing.”
“I still can’t figure out what happened,” Bloomberg said to laughter. “More than any other candidate, we have the momentum.”
Bloomberg’s presidential strategy is dependent on a chaotic result in the first four Democratic nominating states, where he is not competing, an outcome Bloomberg advisers say happened in Iowa on Monday.
Recent changes to the Democratic Party’s qualification rules for the Feb. 19 debate have opened the door for Bloomberg to qualify. The party has dropped individual donor requirements that the billionaire candidate would not meet, since he has decided to not seek any contributions to his campaign. He has yet to meet polling qualifications.
Technical problems have so far prevented Iowa from declaring a winner, and multiple campaigns have released data that they say indicates that former vice president Joe Biden, the polling leader, is unlikely to win first place.
“This is the best-case scenario,” Bloomberg senior adviser Howard Wolfson said of the confusing Iowa caucuses results. “After a year of running, the field is as unsettled as ever. No one has made the sale or even come close to it. Meanwhile, we are taking the fight to Trump every day.”
Closing polling showed a four-way race in Iowa, raising the likelihood that most of those candidates stay in through Super Tuesday on March 3, when Bloomberg will aggressively compete for delegates in 14 voting states.
If three or more candidates pull a significant share of voters in the primary process, the odds of no candidate directly winning a majority of delegates will increase sharply, forcing either a contested convention or delegate dealing before the convention.
The Bloomberg campaign also took note of the relatively low turnout projections in Iowa, a warning sign for a party that will need to drive large numbers to the polls to defeat President Donald Trump.
“As best as we can tell, none of the candidates expanded the map,” said Jason Schechter, Bloomberg campaign communications director. “No new group of citizens came into the fold to vote. That’s a big problem in a year where we need to excite voters across the political spectrum.”
Since entering the race in November, Bloomberg has spent more than $300 million on television and digital advertising, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad-tracking firm.
By comparison, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spent $11 million on television and radio ads in Iowa during the entire caucus campaign, while former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg spent $10.3 million.
Bloomberg’s advisers also have been cheered in recent days by Trump’s continued desire to engage directly with Bloomberg, a businessman worth more than $50 billion.
Both men ran ads during Sunday’s Super Bowl, and in a pregame interview Trump made light of Bloomberg’s physical stature, suggesting that he would want to stand on a box at a debate.
“I stand twice as tall as he does on the stage, the stage that matters,” Bloomberg responded to Trump.