The Stakes 2020: Bloomberg’s Virality And Texts With A Kamala Staffer

In this edition of The Stakes 2020, BuzzFeed News' newsletter about the 2020 campaign, we text with Ian Sams, the national press secretary for Kamala Harris, about the end of her campaign.

This is the Stakes 2020, BuzzFeed News' newsletter about what really matters in the 2020 campaign. You can sign up here.

The Lede: Since impeachment is an intense but predictable Washington drama, Democrats may have little space in their heads for the primary. And as they look back to Iowa, they’re going to see…Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Is Michael Bloomberg really going viral? Axios the other day reported that on Nov. 24 Bloomberg was enjoying an “attention boom,” pointing at both cable TV (true!) and the following internet stat: “Recent stories about Bloomberg generated more social media interactions than Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Julián Castro, or Tom Steyer have ever gotten.” That’s not nothing — but “stories about” is a pretty narrow measure.

So I asked my colleague Brandon Hardin to pull a more organic measure, interactions on the candidates’ Facebook pages the week after Bloomberg announced, and it’s pretty much what you’d expect: Bernie dominates, Warren is second, and Bloomberg is the floor. His tweets, meanwhile, get likes and retweets in the triple figures, but this isn’t a mass movement.

Bloomberg did have stellar engagement on one post a couple months ago, Hardin says: the one in which he appeared with India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. He’d be a hell of an internet candidate in India, it seems.

Remember Cory Booker? The New Jersey senator was on AM to DM Wednesday morning, upset that “we’ve gotten to a point now where there’s more billionaires in the 2020 race than there are black people.” Booker says it with a different valence than Sanders and Warren do — some of his best friends are billionaires — and if you’re a pro-business Democrat worried about Joe Biden, it’s hard to watch that interview and not come away thinking Booker is the blindingly obvious answer to the question of who’s a strong centrist alternative.

Read Receipts: Kamala Harris was the first major candidate to text with me for this series, and we talked policy and memes. She left the race yesterday after failing to find a clear base of support, and will now be a sought-after endorsement for her former rivals. I texted yesterday with a staffer of hers, Ian Sams. I chose him because he and I had one of the sort of blowups — in this newsletter — that you sometimes see between campaigns and reporters.

Click here for a full transcript of this conversation.

On the trail with BuzzFeed News

Ryan has a fantastic look at the relationship between stan culture and political campaigns, with lots of newsy details on the #KHive.

After Harris dropped out, Nidhi spoke with Julián Castro, who said that the media is holding candidates of color to a different standard.

If senators running for president get stuck in Washington for an impeachment trial, Addy wrote, Bernie Sanders has a secret weapon: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

And Molly scooped before Thanksgiving that a woman alleged in 2011 that Andrew Yang discriminated against her at his tutoring company.

Darren reported on the Democratic panic that is setting in over pro-Trump messaging to occasional black voters.

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