Michael Bloomberg’s Possible White House Candidacy: Just for Show

Michael Bloomberg still can’t decide. Should he launch himself into the presidential race and set his sights on the White House? “I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” declared the former New York mayor (2002-2013) to The Financial Times on Feb. 9, a few hours before the New Hampshire primaries. Americans deserve “a lot better,” he added. At the end of January, The New York Times reported that Mr. Bloomberg had given himself until the start of March to enter the race.

Limited Support

If the 73-year-old Mr. Bloomberg runs for president, he would do so as an independent candidate; this corresponds to his latest political reinvention. He was a long-time Democrat before switching to the Republicans in 2001, standing for election as mayor of New York. Then, in 2007, he switched to being an independent. His fortune, estimated as $39.9 billion by Forbes magazine, would allow him to launch a campaign effortlessly.

In 1992, another businessman, the Texan Ross Perot, ran for president as an independent candidate. He won 19,741,065 votes (an 18.91 percent share), which helped Bill Clinton defeat George H.W. Bush, the father of George W. Bush and Jeb Bush.

A Morning Consult poll seems to show that Mr. Bloomberg has limited support: In January, in the event of there being three candidates, 13 percent of voters would back him (compared to 37 percent for Donald Trump and 36 percent for Hillary Clinton). His entrance into the race would be more damaging to Mrs. Clinton than to Mr. Trump, the poll shows.

Moreover, the latter is rubbing his hands, confirming that he would love to see Michael Bloomberg, whom he considers a friend, enter the race, acknowledging that many factors divide them.

Above all, outside of the northeastern U.S., Mr. Bloomberg appears unknown: Forty-three percent of people surveyed didn’t know who he was.

Irreconcilable Positions

Mr. Bloomberg would find it difficult to win over sections of both Republican and Democratic voters. In August 2015, the National Rifle Association launched a publicity campaign to denounce his desire to strengthen gun control.

His liberal views on numerous topics across society — in favor of abortion and stem cell research — might dissuade moderate Republicans, The Wall Street Journal reveals.

As for the Democrats, his image as a businessman representing Wall Street would also be a turnoff.

Quinnipiac University has investigated the impact that a Bloomberg candidacy would have, stating that Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders would have more to lose than the Republican candidates if he found himself in a three-way race against Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.

Then again, the university’s poll is a grim reading for Mr. Bloomberg: Fifty-three percent of the people surveyed felt they didn’t know enough about him to be able to vote for him. This is pretty disappointing for someone who was New York mayor for 12 years and has several media outlets at his disposal (newspapers, websites, and television and radio stations).

Difficult Three-Way Race

Writing in The Washington Post, Jonathan Capehart, who advised him during his first New York mayoral campaign, ends up burying Mr. Bloomberg’s candidacy: He stresses that in order to win the election, he needs to win over the majority of electors — 270 votes — which is virtually impossible in a three-way race.

If no candidate gains the 270 Electoral College votes, the House of Representatives chooses the president (in accordance with the 12th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States), and in this case, the representation from each state has one vote.

Considering that 33 of the 50 states sent Republicans to the House, and that said, Republicans are not obliged to follow the popular vote, the final result could never be favorable to an independent candidate like Mr. Bloomberg, whose views bother Republicans as much as Democrats.

For The Atlantic, Mr. Bloomberg launching a presidential campaign would primarily be part of the media circus led by the New York media … for the last 10 years. Larry Sabato, a researcher in political science at the University of Virginia, known for his publication “Sabato’s Crystal Ball,” confirms this. He told The Financial Times that this candidacy is a fantasy — that Mr. Bloomberg probably imagines that millions of Americans, from liberal Republicans to moderate Democrats, can’t wait for him to launch his campaign.

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