Bloomberg’s Possible Presidential Bid Steals Votes, Not Victory
by Ned Sheehan on Friday, February 12th, 2016
Michael Bloomberg, former three-term Mayor of New York City, has announced that he is considering running for President this November as an Independent. Bloomberg, a self-made finance billionaire, served his first term as mayor as a centrist Republican, before switching to the Independent Party for his second. He certainly has an attractive profile: generally fiscally moderate, socially progressive, and very popular amongst New Yorkers. But could this really translate into a viable presidency?
A Bloomberg victory is highly unlikely. Bloomberg is a mainly regional candidate with limited public recognition outside of the Northeast, a strongly liberal region. Nevertheless, Bloomberg could still have a major impact on the presidential race, an impact worth examining.
In the 2016 general election, we should expect to see either a moderate Republican (Rubio, Bush, Kasich) vs. Clinton, an extreme Republican (Trump, Cruz) vs. Clinton, or either of the above types of Republican vs. Sanders. In a run between a hard-line Republican and Clinton, Bloomberg would be near-irrelevant. Bloomberg would take some northeastern votes from the centrist fringes of both parties, and possibly even make a run at winning Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, but wouldn’t do much harm to Clinton. West Coast, Midwest, and Florida liberals would more than make up for Clinton’s losses in the mid-Atlantic and parts of New England. However, Bloomberg has announced that he will not run against Clinton unless she is severely weakened by the primary race.
In the unlikely event of a race between a moderate Republican, Clinton, and Bloomberg, the former Mayor could potentially do great damage to the Democrats. In the tightly contested race that would ensue, losses in otherwise solidly Democratic states could very well cripple Clinton, and even hand the race to her moderate opponent. Clinton could also, if challenged by Bloomberg, tack too far to the left to distinguish herself from the former mayor and alienate her own moderate base of supporters, possibly leading to a victory for her opponent.
In the unlikely event of a race between the more extreme Sanders and a similarly radical Republican, Bloomberg would gain support from alienated factions of both parties. Moderate northeastern states, such as Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Connecticut, in addition to New York, could very well swing towards Bloomberg, who would likely also receive strong support as far away from his base as Massachusetts, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. The loss of support in the aforementioned states, most of which have been solidly blue for years, would devastate Sanders, and likely hand the election to his Republican counterpart. In a race between Sanders and a moderate Republican, many centrist democrats would support Bloomberg over Sanders, who would be doomed to fail in such a setting.
As you can see, there really isn’t a plausible scenario where Mayor Bloomberg is likely to win, regardless of his opponents. No party other than the Democrats and Republicans have won the presidency since 1852 (not counting Lincoln’s reelection with a coalition party during the height of the Civil War). Many say that Bloomberg, a multibillionaire, would be able to offset this problem by funding an extensive campaign on his own. However, in 1992, H. Ross Perot, a Texan billionaire, ran a similarly centrist campaign. Perot, due to his wealthy Texan origins and unclear message, was quickly associated with conservatism, allowing him to pillage incumbent George H. W. Bush’s voter base and hand the election to Bill Clinton.
Considering his lack of nationwide name recognition and New York background, it is unlikely Bloomberg would draw many conservative votes outside his home turf. Barring some unprecedented scandal from either the Democratic or Republican candidate, Bloomberg is too regional to have a legitimate chance of victory in a general election. In fact, Bloomberg would have been better off trying to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
Bloomberg, if he is foolish enough to run, will likely end up a nonentity to the Republican candidate and a thorn in the side of a Democratic one. I respect Bloomberg for his excellent record as mayor, but the fact remains that he is a 73 year old centrist whom the majority of people only know for his infamous law banning oversize sodas. The former mayor has yet to adopt any sort of platform, domestic or foreign, to run on. Bloomberg’s time to enter the presidential race was months ago. He should not consider running now, for if he does, he’ll likely become either the most hated or the most ridiculed figure in American Politics.
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