Michael Bloomberg for American President? (Un)realistic?

According to NYT Michael Bloomberg considers an independent presidential bid. Do you think he might have a chance to be an important player in presidential elections and for whom could this be a bigger headache, for Dems or GOP? Read few comments.

John AldrichUniversity Professor of Political Science, Duke University

As you may know, the U.S.A. has one of the strongest two-party systems in the world, and especially at the level of running for president, it is very difficult even to get on the ballot, let alone attract enough support to be a serious contender.

One problem is that the hopeful must get on 50 state ballots, each of which has different rules. In my state’s case (that is, north Carolina) its rules make getting on the ballot as a third-party candidate particularly difficult, not because they care that much about the national race, but they do so because of local, state-level politics.

Bloomberg has at least a good a chance as any other possible third-party candidate. The most important reason is that he claims to be willing to set aside a billion dollars, US, which is a lot of money, and in the range of what will be spent for the two party nominees in 2016. While he may need even more, that certainly gets him a long way toward making it possible to get on the ballot and also to run a serious campaign.

Could he possibly win? It is very unlikely.

His next big problem is to get voters to imagine that he as president could have any sway over a Congress that is run by Republicans and Democrats.

On the plus side, many voters do seem to have a deep dislike for Trump. Trump is supported by more Republican than any other candidate, but is still well short of a majority of them, and Republicans are a minority in the electorate. If Trump does win and continues to keep those voters alienated, Bloomberg has a chance.

But Bloomberg also has to win votes that otherwise would go to the Democrat, most likely Clinton. Here there seems to be a moderate level of discomfort with her as a possible president, but that is a long way from having Democrats abandon her.

So, it will be a hard, uphill battle all the way for Bloomberg.

He might very well affect the outcome without winning, however. For example, if becomes credible enough, he might win a lot of moderate Republican and independent votes. The effect might then be to undermine Trump’s chances, with Clinton the winner, making it easier, that is, for her to win.

But if something goes wrong with the Clinton candidacy, he would be there as a relatively safe alternative.

Of course, that presumes that nothing goes seriously wrong for his own campaign, and in soemthing as challenging as running for president, it is hard to imagine a camapgin in which nothing goes wrong.

Justin Holmes, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Northern Iowa

This is not a good idea for Bloomberg, as it is inconceivable that he will win. Winner take all systems like ours only really support two parties, and 3rd parties have almost no chance of winning. At best, they can knock out one of the existing parties, but that is rare. The last time we had someone from a new party win was Lincoln in 1860, and that was a party built out of the remains of a couple former parties, and he won in a 4 way race with a small plurality of the vote. That’s not going to happen this year, as you have two established and successful parties running candidates.

If he runs, the impact on the race depends on a few factors. The most likely scenario is that he never gains traction, and doesn’t really pull support from either party, sort of like Bob Barr who was a former Republican who ran to the right of McCain in 2008. Should he gain some meaningful support, it depends on who the major party nominees are. If the nominees for the Republicans is Trump or Cruz, Bloomberg could peel off quite a few votes. There is a moderate contingent in the Republican Party that doesn’t have much clout in the primaries that could bolt to Bloomberg, because they really dislike both Trump and Cruz. If the Republican nominee were Bush, Rubio, or Christie, this would be less of an issue. I doubt Bloomberg would hurt Democrats much if Clinton is the nominee, but if Sanders is the nominee, enough moderates might vote for him to hurt the democrats (sort of a reverse of 2000)

Barry Burden, Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Bloomberg could be a significant factor in the general election. He has enough personal wealth to fund an elaborate organization and plenty of advertising.

It is unclear which party his candidacy would hurt more. It depends in large part on who the parties nominate. It is a headache for both major parties because the impact of third party and independent candidates is so difficult to predict.

If Trump is the Republican nominee, Bloomberg might take the votes of those who are attracted to Trump’s business success and are not bothered by his association with New York City. On the other hand, gun rights activists who support Trump will be strongly repelled by Bloomberg’s positions on gun control.

If neither Cruz nor Trump wins the GOP nomination and a candidate such as Rubio instead leads the party, Bloomberg would do more damage to the Democrats, especially if Clinton is the nominee.


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