The Democratic establishment may be gravitating toward Michael Bloomberg after Joe Biden finished a disappointing fourth in the Iowa caucuses and appears to be flatlining in New Hampshire.

Fretting that liberals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are too polarizing to defeat President Trump and concerned about the lack of support for Pete Buttigieg among minorities and seniors, Democratic operatives and elected officials who had pinned their hopes on Biden are taking a closer look at Bloomberg. In the former New York mayor, Democratic insiders see a contender with broad appeal who has the fortitude to handle Trump — and the resources to compete.

“This guy has some guts,” said Rep. Juan Vargas, a California Democrat backing Bloomberg. “That’s what we need, a guy that can win, has some guts, and quite frankly, would be the best president out there.”

Bloomberg has ticked up to third in the race for establishment endorsements, behind Warren, despite launching his campaign in late November.

Biden, 77, still has the commanding support of establishment Democrats, especially candidates and incumbents running down-ticket in tough contests. They have viewed the former vice president as the most electable against Trump, confident he could unify the Democratic Party while cutting into the president’s advantage with blue-collar voters in the Midwest and attracting disaffected Republicans in the suburbs.

The former vice president enjoys a wide lead over the field in establishment endorsements. Yet Biden has had trouble with young voters and the liberal base. Meanwhile, attacks from Trump over Biden’s and son Hunter Biden’s dealings with Ukraine while the elder Biden was vice president have some Democrats worried he is too weak to beat Trump. Although Democrats say the attacks are untrue, some are having flashbacks to Hillary Clinton and the scandal surrounding her private email server that they insist was unfair but concede was damaging.

With Biden’s poor showing in Iowa and his New Hampshire support diminishing, Bloomberg is beginning to intrigue Democratic officials. Biden received just 15.8% of the vote in Iowa, behind Warren’s 18%. Sanders and Buttigieg basically tied at around 26%. Recent New Hampshire polls suggest the former vice president could be headed for a similar finish there.

“I just think Bloomberg is a stronger candidate,” said Rep. Ben McAdams, a Utah Democrat up for reelection in a Republican-leaning district who endorsed the billionaire media mogul over Biden.

One veteran Democratic official said Buttigieg was also being considered as an alternative for those disenchanted with Biden, saying there is “a real battle between Buttigieg and Bloomberg for the support of the party establishment.”

Bloomberg, who turns 78 on Valentine’s Day, initially turned heads because of the investment of personal funds he was willing to make in his campaign and promises to keep spending to boost the eventual Democratic standard-bearer if he did not win the nomination. Bloomberg has spent more than $250 million so far on an aggressive television advertising campaign, as well as field and data analytics programs so robust they resemble a shadow political party.

Bloomberg is skipping the early primary states altogether, choosing to make a stand on “Super Tuesday,” March 3, when 16 states will hold Democratic primaries. The strategy is unorthodox, and there is no recent historical precedent for success, leading many Democratic insiders to dismiss Bloomberg’s prospects. Biden faltering and a lack of faith in the strength of the rest of the front-runners have altered that calculus.

“Biden tripping up is helping Bloomberg a lot,” said Ed Espinoza, a Democratic operative in Austin focused on the party’s efforts to make inroads in Texas.

Many Democratic insiders question the ability of Buttigieg and Sanders to unify the party and take on Trump.

Ed Rendell, a Democratic Party grandee who has endorsed Biden, said their anxiety is justified. Plans to nationalize healthcare and ban fracking proposed by Sanders and Warren could sink the Democrats up and down the ticket in key battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania, where Rendell, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, was governor from 2003 to 2011.

If not Biden, then why not Buttigieg? Rendell, who attributed Bloomberg’s growing support to his impressive credentials and the vast resources he is willing to sink into the 2020 campaign, said the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has not demonstrated that he can win over nonwhite voters, a crucial Democratic constituency.

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