Bloomberg likely to decide on 2020 bid by early next year
By STEVE PEOPLES
Wednesday, November 14
NEW YORK (AP) — Having spent a fortune to help elect Democrats this fall, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared lifetime allegiance to the Democratic Party and outlined an aggressive timeline for deciding whether to run for president.
“I think January, February would be about as late as you can do it and as early as you can gather enough information,” Bloomberg told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.
The 76-year-old billionaire said his decision would have little to do with other Democratic presidential prospects. He conceded that “it’s much too early to tell” whether he has a legitimate chance of winning the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 and, with it, the chance to take on another New York billionaire, President Donald Trump.
“Thanksgiving, Christmas and then maybe a few weeks into January — that’s when you really gotta sit down, talk to your advisers and say, ‘Look, do I have a chance?’ I think I know why I would want to run. I think I know what I think this country should do and what I would do. But I just don’t know whether it’s possible,” Bloomberg told the AP.
He added, “If people don’t seem to be warming to you, there’s plenty of other ways that I can make a difference in life and say thank you to this country for what it’s given my kids and me.”
Should he run, Bloomberg would bring virtually limitless resources and a pragmatic governing approach to what is expected to be a massive 2020 Democratic field. Hardly a far-left liberal, he is described by his team as socially progressive and business-minded. He has spent tens of millions of dollars to promote liberal priorities on climate change, gun control and immigration.
It’s unclear, however, whether there’s room for Bloomberg in today’s Democratic Party.
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, offered a lukewarm assessment this week when asked about Bloomberg’s $110 million investment in his party’s 2018 midterm efforts.
“I applaud everybody who was involved,” Perez said in an interview. “Very appreciative of Mayor Bloomberg. Equally appreciative of those grassroots activists who were knocking on doors every weekend, texting people, investing 50 bucks in the Democratic Party.”
Still, Bloomberg endeared himself to many Democratic leaders in recent months after deciding to invest more than $110 million in the 2018 midterms — largely focused on House races. Long an active political donor to candidates in both parties, Bloomberg gave almost exclusively to Democrats this year for the first time.
The decision, he explained, was born out of his concern that Republicans who controlled the House and Senate weren’t providing an adequate check on the Trump presidency. Yet this political season marked a permanent shift in his political identity, he said.
“I will be a Democrat for the rest of my life,” Bloomberg said.
Initially registered as a Democrat, the Massachusetts native filed paperwork to change his voter registration to Republican in 2000 before his first run for New York City mayor, according to a spokesman. In June 2007, he unenrolled from the GOP, having no formal party affiliation until he registered again as a Democrat this October.
Months before that, Bloomberg directed his political team to work hand in hand with leading Democratic allies to shape the first nationwide election of Trump’s presidency. His top aides even shared office space at times in the campaign’s final days with the super PAC aligned with top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
Ultimately, Bloomberg’s preferred candidates won all but three of two dozen targeted House races, focused overwhelmingly in America’s suburbs.
Once it became clear Democrats seized the House majority, he said he delivered a stern message to Pelosi.
“I’ve said to Nancy Pelosi: ‘We don’t expect you to do the same thing to the Republicans that the Republicans were doing to you. We want to have people working across the aisle for the benefit of America rather than for the benefit of their party,’” Bloomberg said.
That’s a message Pelosi herself has articulated in recent weeks. Bloomberg reinforced it again in person on Tuesday as Pelosi met with his board of directors in private.
“I said, sitting next to her, without mincing words, I said, ‘You know, we expect you to do a good job,’” Bloomberg said. “That’s why we supported the Democrats.”
Democratic officials poised to play leading roles in the next presidential election took notice of Bloomberg’s investment.
Guy Cecil, chairman of the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA, described Bloomberg’s midterm effort as “incredibly helpful.” It’s unclear, however, whether Democratic voters who might favor younger, more liberal candidates in 2020 will see him any differently.
“Democrats appreciate how much he has invested and how much his team has been engaged in the cycle, but ultimately it’s going to be about what Bloomberg’s vision is for the future,” Cecil said.
Bloomberg acknowledged he has already formulated his justification for a presidential bid, but he declined to share it when asked. Still, he offered a message to any critics who might not think he belongs in today’s Democratic Party.
“I don’t think anybody has done more on the environment, on gun safety, on immigration, go right down the list,” Bloomberg said. “I was the one who stood up for gay marriage long before it became popular. I was the one at the national convention who said Trump was a con man. If you find anybody that’s done more on these issues than I have, and the people that I’ve been lucky enough to work with, please give me a call. I’d like to hire ‘em.”
A county in Idaho offered Spanish-language ballots for the first time and here’s what happened
November 14, 2018
Research Associate, Idaho Policy Institute, Boise State University
Gabe Osterhout does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Boise State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
On the morning of Election Day, the top trending search on Google was “donde votar,” which means “where to vote” in Spanish.
Voter access to the polls was a major issue during the 2018 midterm elections in the U.S. Charges of voter suppression were made in in Georgia and North Dakota. Critics of new voting rules claimed they disenfranchised African-Americans and Native Americans.
While those problems were extensively covered by the press, less attention was paid to another problem that can affect voter turnout: the availability of foreign-language ballots.
Lack of access to non-English ballots can be an obstacle to voting for immigrants. Simply put, if voters can’t understand the ballot, they may not vote.
That’s why the Voting Rights Act has protections for language minorities, defined as “persons who are American Indian, Asian American, Alaskan Natives, or of Spanish heritage.” The act requires local election officials to provide foreign-language election materials in regions that have a certain number of voters with limited English proficiency. Election materials can include registration or voting notices, instructions and ballots.
After the 2016 election, the Census Bureau released a list of 263 jurisdictions in 29 states required to offer such foreign-language election materials. Those areas included close to 70 million voters with limited English who could vote in the 2018 election. For the first time, Idaho had a jurisdiction required to offer Spanish-language ballots.
I’m a researcher at Boise State University’s Idaho Policy Institute where I study the impact of electoral policy on voter turnout and outcomes. I examined how this new requirement affected voter behavior on Election Day in Idaho.
While my findings seem to be an outlier in the larger context of election language assistance studies, the experience of one county may help broaden our understanding of the impact of foreign-language ballots as the Hispanic population continues to grow in Idaho and elsewhere.
The curious case of Idaho
Idaho has 80,000 Hispanic voters, 7 percent of Idaho’s eligible voter population. Lincoln County is a small, rural area in southern Idaho. It has slightly more than 5,000 residents, including 1,600 Hispanics, representing 30 percent of the county’s population. Among those that speak Spanish at home, 60 percent do not speak English very well.
I studied Lincoln County’s turnout before and after the 2018 election to see if election language assistance affected voter behavior in the Latino community.
Compared to previous midterm elections, the county’s 68 percent turnout was higher than in 2014, 2010 and 2006. However, this year’s elections also saw higher voter turnout across Idaho and the United States, which makes it difficult to isolate the impact of Spanish-language ballots.
To dig deeper, I compared voter turnout in Lincoln to three neighboring and demographically similar counties: Minidoka, Jerome and Gooding. The four counties all have Hispanic populations ranging from 29 percent to 34 percent of the population. But unlike Lincoln, its neighboring counties were not required to offer Spanish-language ballots.
I found that Lincoln County’s voter turnout didn’t increase in 2018 from the previous three midterms any more than its neighbors.
Turnout in Lincoln rose 5.4 percent compared to the previous three midterm elections, while Jerome rose 5.6 percent, Minidoka rose 8.4 percent, and Gooding rose 9.1 percent. These three counties had higher rates of increased voter turnout compared to recent midterms than Lincoln County did.
Does this mean that Spanish-language ballots don’t affect Hispanic election participation? From this case, it’s hard to tell.
Here’s what we know based on previous research.
The bigger picture
Counties that offered language assistance in previous elections have experienced increased minority participation. Since the Voting Rights Act was amended to include minority language assistance in 1975, Hispanic voter registration doubled over the following 30 years. Language assistance has a significant effect on voting turnout for minority groups, especially for first-generation citizens.
Other studies show that, despite helping increase voter turnout, election language assistance does not help increase voter registration for people who don’t speak English fluently. This is an important consideration since voter turnout compares the number of ballots cast to the number of registered voters, not the total population.
Overall, studies show that foreign-language assistance, and especially Spanish-language ballots, make it easier for immigrant populations to engage in the election process and have increased voter turnout among Hispanic citizens.
The turnout in Lincoln County, Idaho this year seems to be an outlier. This may be due to a few reasons. For one, the small sampling size of a sparsely populated county means that even minor changes in voting behavior can create erratic statistical swings. Further, with 2018 being Lincoln County’s first major election to offer Spanish ballots, we can only look at one data point. Its turnout numbers will become more reliable and significant as future elections take place and offer more data points. As the first bilingual election, it is also possible that some members of the community were not aware of the opportunity to vote in another language.
Lincoln County also has a significantly lower percentage of registered Democratic voters compared to other regions in the country offering foreign-language ballots. This is important because turnout in 2018 was higher in liberal-leaning areas.
There are likely other electoral factors at play that need more consideration, but these findings will perhaps prove helpful, as other Idaho counties will likely be required to offer Spanish-language ballots after the next census as the state’s Hispanic population continues to grow.