Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bloomberg's Shadow

Can a Jewish, divorced billionaire former Democrat and former Republican be elected President?

Probably not. But the ever more likely independent run for President by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has everyone else scrambling to understand how it would affect the '08 race.

We'll start off by saying that our predictions for the race remain on track, to wit: Gingrich will also enter on the GOP side(although we don't rule out an independent run by him); the GOP will select its nominee at a contentious convention after no one racks up enough votes in the primaries; Bloomberg will run as an independent, along with another popular middle-roader, perhaps Hegel; Al Gore won't run (although he'll be sorely tempted); the Dems will probably nominate Hillary (but we won't rule out either Obama or Richardson). In addition, a "mainstream" right wing independent and a weaker left wing independent will also emerge as candidates capable of taking 2-3 percent of the vote. In other words, it's going to be a humdinger.

Now, let's go back to Bloomberg. We don't think he can win, although various other prognosticators come down on both sides. Today's WSJ has a report showing that in a hypothetical match-up of Bloomberg, Clinton and McCain, New York's mayor gets about 20 percent of the vote, taking votes away evenly from the Dems and Repubs. On the other hand, pollster John Zogby says in today's New York Daily News that Bloomberg could win, but his timing would have to be perfect.

We're with the WSJ on this one--he can't win--but we sure think his run will shake things up, including forcing the mainstream parties' nominees back to the middle and away from fringe politics. Here's one reason Bloomberg can't win: the electoral college. Remember, it's not the popular vote that wins in America, its the electoral college (or the Supreme Court, as in 2000).

Mayor Mike would not be able to come close to taking any Southern or border state. He would have a chance in the Northeast of taking a few states from Maryland to Maine if, say, he garnered 35-40 percent of the vote and the other candidates split down the middle (the only state we'd give him for sure, however, is independent-loving Connecticut). He might also take a couple Great Lakes states, such as Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois (if Obama is not the nominee). He'd have little chance in the Plains and Mountain West, but he could squeak out something on the Left Coast--California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. But even with an extremely unlikely sweep of all those states (we think he'd only get a handful) he wouldn't have a MAJORITY of electoral college votes, so all he could do is throw the election into the House of Representatives, where he would have no base.

In the process, however, Bloomberg could clearly shake things up in a major way

We think he hurts the Democratic nominee more than the Republican nominee, unless he causes the whole thing to go to the House of Representatives, where Democrats have control. And it could come to that, although we'd think it unlikely.

The problem for Democrats is that Bloomberg is more likely to pick off two or three Blue states (like Connecticut), but no Red states, in an environment where the electoral college vote remains very tight.

However, the analysis could change if Republicans nominate a "moderate" such as McCain or Giuliani, and then face a popular right-wing independent (Gingrich?). In that case, they could look at a siphoning off of as much as five percent of the vote, which would be greater (7-15 %) in the South, Border States and Mountain West, and could be enough to tip some of those states (especially Missouri, Florida, Arizona, Colorado) to a Democrat.

All of which is to say, "fasten your seatbelts" as it could be a wild ride.

Now, here's our dream line-up (which we don't see any chance of happening):

Dems: Al Gore

Republicans: John McCain

Independent: Michael Bloomberg

Right wing: Newt Gingrich

Left Wing: ????

What we would get would be a fantastic, intellectually oriented policy debate aimed at the center by candidates we believe do, for the most part, try to rise above partisanship. Like we said, it won't happen.

The race has a LONG way to go. Our last prediction is that something will happen that, as of now, NO ONE is predicting.

1 comment:

Miles said...

Why can't we have a national popular vote system where you could have as many candidates as you wanted? If someone gets 50% of the popular vote, they win. If not, top two candidates run off.

Enough with the electoral college. But if we didn't learn our lesson in 2000, we never will.