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That’s a lot of money for 4 delegates

That’s a lot of money for 4 delegates That’s a lot of money for 4 delegates

I’ve got the perfect t-shirt idea for former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg. In big, bold letters, it says: “I spent a half-billion dollars, and all I got was a few lousy delegates from American Samoa.”

By now, anyone who pays even the slightest amount of attention to politics knows the gist of the Super Tuesday voting results. Joe Biden did really well, even in places like my home state of Minnesota where Bernie Sanders was favored to win. Sanders, meanwhile, won the biggest single prize, California, but lost a lot of ground to Biden.

But, I’d like to focus on the Bloomberg fiasco. I find it very heartening to see that candidates, no matter how wealthy or well-connected, cannot simply “buy” elections in the United States. His abject failure in trying to purchase a top spot in the Democratic primary will hopefully be a lesson that voters still make their own choices despite being inundated with an obnoxious number of TV ads.

However, I’m not naive. I fully realize that money will continue to have an outsized influence on elections. Bloomberg and his remaining billions can, and will, continue to provide crucial support for the candidates of his choice, whether they’re Democrats one year or Republicans the next. Big-money donors tend to be most effective when they’re working behind the scenes, letting their checkbooks do the talking for them.

But it’s also worth pointing out that the second-place finisher in American Samoa was Tulsi Gabbard, who most people have probably forgotten about by now. She can’t possibly have much money to spend on campaigning, but somehow she was able to get enough support on the little island to win her very first (and likely only) delegate.

Obviously, American Samoa is not exactly a bellwether territory when it comes to U.S. elections. Its entire population is less than many mainland cities, and its location in the South Pacific makes it an unlikely destination for any political candidate. Bloomberg should really use some of his leftover campaign cash to send a personalized thank-you card to every Samoan who voted for him. It would be the best investment his campaign ever made.

To use a sports analogy, the “Samoan Surprise” (a term I just coined) is like the field goal at the very end of a football game in which the winning team has amassed a 42-0 lead. Those three points for the losing team prevent a total shutout, but they also underscore how pathetically lopsided the whole game was from start to finish. Extending that metaphor, some people need to realize when they should really just stay on the sidelines instead of marching onto the field with delusions of buying a victory.