In late 2006 and through the first half of 2007, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent a considerable amount of money putting together the infrastructure and conducting the research necessary to launch an independent presidential candidacy.
In the summer of 2007, he pulled the plug. He didn’t think he could pull it off.
The word around New York these days is that he’s doing this political due diligence again, getting back up to speed on what would be required if he decided to make a run for it. Any number of well-connected political consultants are almost certainly egging him on; Bloomberg pays top dollar and his fortune generates over $1 billion in income every year. If he did run for president, he wouldn’t scrimp.
The question on the table is: can it be done? Does an independent presidential campaign with Michael Bloomberg at the top of the ticket have any chance of success?
The answer is almost certainly no. Here’s why.
Assume the worst case scenario for President Obama: he’s the 2012 version of Jimmy Carter, eaten alive by stagflation, Middle East conflict and sky-high oil prices. President Carter, the weakest Democratic incumbent president running for re-election in the modern era, garnered 40% of the vote in 1980 (Reagan got 50% and Independent candidate John Anderson got 10%). So let’s say that Obama replicates Carter’s meltdown and gets 40% of the vote.
That leaves 60% of the vote up for grabs.
How low can the Republicans go? Assume a worst case scenario for them: they nominate their weakest general election candidate, but someone beloved by the GOP base, a modern Barry Goldwater. That would be Sarah Palin. Assume further that Gov. Palin runs a perfectly awful campaign. How low can she go? Roughly 30% would probably be rock bottom.
That leaves 30% of the vote for Bloomberg. He loses to President Obama by 10% in a best case scenario for him and a worst case scenario for his opponents. The only way Bloomberg has any chance of winning as an independent is if he splits the Republican Party by peeling off its establishment wing. But that’s not going to happen; this year, next year, ever.
So the Bloomberg for President campaign, without a major party line, is almost certainly doomed before it begins. The maths doesn’t work, no matter how much money he is willing to spend.
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