Super Tuesday states key focus of Bloomberg spending spree

Bloomberg has already dropped a staggering $344M on the 2020 race

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is concentrating more than a third of his massive spending efforts on the 14 states that will cast their ballots on Super Tuesday.

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Almost 35 percent of Bloomberg's unprecedented ad-buying campaign has gone toward the four states with the largest number of delegates up for grabs: California, New York, Texas and Florida, according to Axios, citing data from ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. Nearly half has been spent on Super Tuesday and Rust Belt states.

Candidates need 1,991 delegates to become the Democratic nominee; a combined 1,344, or about one-third of the total, will be allotted on Super Tuesday alone.

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Bloomberg has already dropped a staggering $344 million on the 2020 race, according to Advertising Analytics, including $282 million on TV and $57 million on Facebook and Google. He previously suggested during a New York Times interview that he's willing to spend up to $1 billion to unseat incumbent President Trump in November.

About $90 million of that collectively went toward the 14 states that will cast their ballot on March 3, according to FiveThirtyEight.

But the three-time New York City mayor's rivals for the nomination Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have spent more than half of their war chest since last January on early-voting states.

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Sanders, whose anti-establishment campaign has become a financial juggernaut powered by an army of small-dollar donors, has spent less than $26 million on advertising during that same time span, according to Vice News.

Bloomberg, one of the richest men alive, is betting that constant exposure on the airwaves can clinch him the nomination, despite his unorthodox strategy to skip Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

The investment may be paying off: In a national average of polls by RealClearPolitics, Bloomberg has surged to third place, behind Sanders and Biden.

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Bloomberg's strategy has elicited criticism from progressive candidates Sanders and Warren, who have accused him of trying to buy the election. Trump echoed that sentiment Tuesday, telling reporters that Bloomberg "is just buying his way in."

The 77-year-old, who's worth an estimated $61 billion, could appear on the debate stage for the first time in Las Vegas next week, after the Democratic National Committee changed its qualifying rules to drop the requirement that a candidate must ascertain a certain number of unique donors, prompting complaints from his 2020 rivals. Trump maintained that Bloomberg is "one of the worst debaters I've ever seen."

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Bloomberg, a moderate, didn't jump into the race until November, reportedly because he was skeptical that Biden could win the nomination and defeat Trump. Biden was handed two back-to-back losses in Iowa (fourth place) and New Hampshire (fifth place), lurching his campaign into uncertainty and potentially jeopardizing his fundraising efforts.

In Iowa, Sanders and Buttigieg tied for first, while Sanders eked out a narrow victory over the former South Bend mayor in New Hampshire. Currently, Buttigieg has 22 delegates, while Sanders has 21. Biden has just six.