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Was Tom Steyer’s Campaign the Worst in Presidential History?

Billionaire spent $3,373 per vote and earned zero delegates

By Ken Kurson, February 29, 2020 8:01 pm

Tom Steyer speaks at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Press play to hear a narrated version of this story, presented by AudioHopper.

With the results in from South Carolina, a strong case can be made that Tom Steyer has just concluded the worst campaign in the history of presidential politics.

Steyer, the California-based founder of Farallon Capital and the co-founder of Onecalifornia Bank and Beneficial State Bank, became a household name – at least among those households with MSNBC – by being the single largest funder of efforts to impeach President Trump. After telling reporters in January 2019 that he would not seek the presidency, Steyer exercised his prerogative to change his mind and declared his candidacy in July.

According to the FEC, Steyer has spent $253,718,074 through January 31, 2020. All but $3,555,597 was from his own pocket. Pre-Bloomberg, a quarter billion dollars for the first four primaries is a staggering amount. But the incredible lack of return on that investment is even more eye-popping, especially for someone whose campaign’s sole justification was his supposed business acumen.

Nowhere was that total incompetence more on display than in South Carolina. Steyer, whose $253 million failed to merit a single delegate in the first three contests, bet his entire campaign on South Carolina. He spent more time there than any other state and his wife Kat Taylor essentially moved to the state. Instead of a triumph, he dropped out of the race immediately after Biden won the state with 50% of the vote.

According to the New York Times, Steyer spent over $18 million on television alone in the Palmetto State. Steyer’s campaign spending has been so excessive that the Times reports that his name has “turned into a verb” – local activists refer to a candidate foolishly overpaying as “steyering.” Some of that spending was ethically questionable, such as renting a campaign headquarters from Jennifer Clyburn Reed, whose father is Congressman James E. Clyburn, the dean of the state’s Democratic Party. Some of that spending was just … goofy. When the Charleston County Democrats held their “Blue Jamboree,” Steyer not only sponsored the lunch, but bought a ticket for every member of the Benedict College marching band and rented them a bus to get there. All of that spending was inefficient, ineffective and ultimately inept.

The numbers are just staggering.

Let’s make some assumptions. Since the Steyer campaign spent $253 million through January, it’s safe to assume another $30 or so million for February, when television buys were at their highest, so let’s call it $280 million.

His seventh-place finish in Iowa netted him 3,061 votes on the first alignment and zero delegates.

His sixth-place finish in New Hampshire netted him 10,727 votes and zero delegates.

In Nevada, Steyer spent $13.55 million on television ads – more than twice as much as the other five candidates combined. His 9,503 first-alignment votes were sixth most and again failed to capture a single delegate.

When the Leap Day primary in South Carolina finally arrived, it looked like Steyer’s last chance to eke out a return on his huge investment.

With 99% of the total counted, Steyer will finish in third place with 59,814 votes, less than a quarter as many as the state’s winner, Joe Biden. At 11.4% of the statewide vote, he will leave South Carolina — and the presidential campaign — without a single delegate. In South Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, he came a couple hundred votes short of the 15% threshold required to earn a delegate, finishing with 14.55%.

So $280 million for 83,000 votes comes to an astonishing $3,373 per vote. His $280 million for zero delegates is without precedent. On Saturday, Steyer danced to Back That Azz Up, thanked his staff for being 30% LGBTQ, and withdrew from the race.

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93 thoughts on “Was Tom Steyer’s Campaign the Worst in Presidential History?

  1. At last! The incessant ads, first for impeachment, then for his campaign, will finally cease. They caused me to wear the mute button on my TV down to a nub(and I watch TV less than an hour a day).

    1. Don’t count on the ads stopping. He has been publishing those for years, now.

      I hope he pays his campaign bills. dims aren’t very good about settling up their obligations.

      1. Thank god.. he called The President Incompetent from the day Trump went down the escalator..BTW he had that constant FAKE smile ..when inside he hadnt smiled since Trump was elected

    2. so much good could have been done for the Nation if his ego had been shut down. What a waste of $$$ and print .
      Maybe he can find something useful now.

    3. I do not watch T V that much anymore and Steyer was one of the main reasons. He came on, the TV channel was changed or just turned off. He was the most annoying thing on TV ever!!!!

    4. I live in Nevada and all those ads achieved was to convince me that Tom Steyer is a raving lunatic.

  2. No one likes Tom Steyer. No one. The California Democrats under Brown and Newsom ignore him. The California Republicans consider him an outrage, ready to sacrifice the entire state of California to help prevent global warming, and ready to impeach Trump for no reason at all.

  3. So Democrats were PAID by Steyer to impeach the president? The ads in my town had Steyer bragging about how he and Obama hog-tied the energy industry and led to $5 per gallon gas so people would give up their cars and walk to work.

  4. In 1980, John Connally spent $11 million and got one delegate. Adjusting for inflation, that is $33 million. So Steyer is the champ. Like Steyer, Connally focused on South Carolina.

  5. Evil White Male And Misogyny

    Evil White Male And Misogeny

  6. Seems to me that what we saw in Tom Steyer’s pointless and ego-ridden campaign was one of the California “bored billionaires” (as Katy Grimes used to call them) on display. As I recall, from what Katy used to describe, the “bored billionaires” were always popping up at election time to stir up trouble (as well as get their hands on an oversized piece of govt pie) by qualifying and then pushing self-serving ballot initiatives behind organizations with names like “California Forward.” The actual individuals involved otherwise preferred to stay behind the scenes except, of course, for the prestige they gained among fellow members of the Smart Set.

    My memory is probably failing me on the details, but I think the one service that Tom Steyer’s puzzling presidential campaign may have performed for us is to show us a very public example of the otherwise hidden California bored billionaires.

      1. That’s true, because Tom Steyer might be the most annoying person ever, but it’s helpful to know who the foolish moneyed class is who are secretly pushing harmful laws.

  7. only bad side of the billionaire wealth flush is that it props up msm for another year.

    if only it went to coal workers, hotel maids, factory workers, cooks and waiters directly – then I would be very happy to watch all these terrible mono-ton ads…as it is i can’t wait until mike pulls out so i don’t have to change the radio station.

  8. Good to see Tom get a good old piece of Humble pie. There is a old saying, “Don’t go away mad, just go away”.
    Bye Tom.

  9. A fool and his money are soon parted. He offered nothing other than an irrational, rabid hatred of Trump and petty ads.

  10. His campaign emphasized “fixing” global warming, as if humans can fix the climate. Seems not many people supported his views.

  11. This poser blew a quarter billion when there are communities in crisis all over the state, places where a lousy (to him) marginal single million could make a world of difference. Oakland is CLOSING SCHOOLS to patch a $16 million hole (which curiously matches the amount spent on consultants by the last Super who just “stage lefted” to DC!). Steyer’s brother is supposed to be some kind of education expert, probably of the Bomb-Throwing Bill Ayers variety. BTW at this very moment there are $100K trades jobs going unfilled due to lack of skilled applicants, building sites right in the view of the Boobocrat mafias that have run Oakland and SF into the ground WHILE FAILING TO TRAIN THEIR OWN (“at risk”!) YOUTHS for those jobs. Those sites are loaded with immigrant labor.
    Oh yeah–did you know Tommy got so rich in part off a huge COAL project in Australia–where they clear-cut 3500 acres of KOALA BEAR HABITAT to mine underneath it?

    1. But at least he stopped the last coal fired energy plant in Oxnard / Ventura he hopes is ever built in California. So, okay in Australia, but not in his backyard?

    1. I was wondering who would have paid for all those electric cars after he closed down the oil companies, at 3300 per vote he could have paid for many.

  12. Re: “Was Tom Steyer’s Campaign the Worst in Presidential History?”
    Let’s not jump the gun yet – Bloomberg’s still going and spending like a drunken sailor (i.e. a Democratic Congressman).

  13. Steyer, like every other demoncrat on the planet, is stupid. While most generalizations have at least one exception, the generalization that ALL democerats are ignorant, stupid fools has zero exceptions. Not even one.

  14. TDS will make cuck small c communists do strange things. Tommy boy is but one clown in the over stuffed 2020 Dhimmi clown car. I enjoyed watching him throw his money out the window. Just think how much glowbull worming Tommy boy caused flitting about like gadfly to oppose the best President ever. I look forward to many more foolish moments like his. Biden/Bernie/Bloomberg, it doesn’t matter, they have LOSER written all over them.

  15. Bloomberg will come out as the worst presidential campaign. It’s obvious who is getting some free advertisement there is no way he can be on every fricken channel on every station on cable and streaming tv and youtube and only spend $500 million. I hope more complain I can’t stand to see his face anymore. 100% Behind the best president we will ever have. Trump 2020 and beyond.

  16. I don’t know if Steyer’s campaign was the worst in history, but he’s definitely a contender for “most annoying candidate in history”.

  17. What a waste of money………..just think of the positive things that it could have spent on:
    – school/education funding
    – infrastructure rebuilds
    – homelessness issues

  18. His naked hatred of Mr Trump disgusted me. His promise to override congress and declare a national emergency on environment scared me. Did he ever hear of the Constitution and Bill of Rights? Oh, yeah. DemonRat “Progressives” despise all that. The way he SATURATED the TV channels with his ads during every commercial break made me PROFOUNDLY THANKFUL that I Dish-DVR everything on TV so that I could fast-forward through all his drek. I grew to loathe his face. Even Bloomberg isn’t as arrogant or obnoxious, and he’s pretty bad. Alas, Tommy-rat also inflicted his Trump-hatred-filled and enviroNazi ads on the radio stations, too. Had no choice but to turn off the sound when listening to radio. I hope he lost a LOT of money. I hope all those TV and radio stations that prostituted themselves to him charged top price for air time. My wishful fantasy is that TOm Steyer will lose ALL his money, retaining JUST enough to give him a $30,000 a year income and a nice lower middle-class lifestyle.

  19. I love to watch supposedly smart people with a lot of money blow through it for vanity’s sake. Go, Micro Mike, go!!!

  20. He could’ve spent those hundreds of millions in self-funded campaign money on something useful like flighting poverty or cleaning up cities. What a waste!

  21. Being a hedge fund manager, Steyer should know that this is a VERY pizz-poor return for all that $$ spent!

    1. This D-Bag was on and on about reparations! Even the blacks didn’t vote for him LMAO!!! He could have given every black in the US $5.50 in cash for the amount he spent getting ZERO delegates! Kick the reparations off and all Tommy Boy. This guy was as vanilla and boring as it gets. Panderer to the hilt! Now Gone! Adios Tom you POS!

  22. Dear Tom:
    I promise to vote for you tomorrow, possibly even twice. Please send my check for 3 grand to me at:
    666 chappaquiddick St.
    Chappaqua NY 10666

    Thanks, and: Godspeed!

  23. This D-Bag was on and on about reparations! Even the blacks didn’t vote for him LMAO!!! He could have given every black in the US $5.50 in cash for the amount he spent getting ZERO delegates! Kick the reparations off and all Tommy Boy. This guy was as vanilla and boring as it gets. Panderer to the hilt! Now Gone! Adios Tom you POS!

  24. It’s a race to the bottom for the title of Most Spent Per Vote and Bloomie is still in it to win it.

  25. I’m a billionaire with a “B”…LOL he looks like the scarecrow from Wizard of OZ…wishing for a brain.

  26. Steyer is a good guy, made Democrats take climate change seriously, built an apart us that will help the eventual nominee, and managed not to alienate any of his rivals.

    Better question is “Is the California GOP the worst state party apparatus in history?” California Republicans should be focused on why they are so awful they went from dominating state politics to not even being able to hold Orange County. How much has the California GOP and it’s candidate spent over the past three decades to become anemic and irrelabnt?

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