Super Tuesday: Bloomberg spent nearly $200M on ads. It didn't get him much.

The billionaire former New York City mayor outspent the rest of the field, but it didn’t translate into votes.
Image: Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg arrives at his campaign office in Little Havana, Miami
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg arrives at his campaign office in Little Havana, Miami, Florida on March 3, 2020.Marco Bello / Reuters

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By Nigel Chiwaya

Money can buy you (a lot) of ads, but for Michael Bloomberg, it couldn’t win him states.

The billionaire former New York City mayor’s eye-popping ad spending made headlines in recent weeks, as Bloomberg dropped a whopping $198 million on television and radio ads between Jan. 1 and Tuesday, according to the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics.

But despite spending almost five times more cash than the rest of the remaining Democratic field combined, Bloomberg came away with a disappointing night, winning the American Samoa primary and 18 delegates nationwide — approximately $11 million per delegate.

Meanwhile, the night’s big winner, former Vice President Joe Biden, swept through the south, winning states despite having some of the lowest ad spend totals in the field.

Bloomberg bypassed the first four states of the primary contest in the hopes of amassing a delegate haul on Super Tuesday. It was a strategy tried by fellow billionaire and former 2020 candidate Tom Steyer in South Carolina, though Bloomberg was only invited to participate in two of the ten Democratic presidential debates so far. Steyer spent $21 million on ads in South Carolina. Like Bloomberg, the spending spree raised Steyer’s poll numbers higher in the state, but it wasn’t enough to salvage his campaign.