Why Michael Bloomberg Is Eying a Third-Party Presidential Bid

If your main complaint about the 2016 presidential election has been that there haven’t been enough eccentric billionaires running, you’re in luck. Michael Bloomberg has reportedly instructed his staff to investigate the possibility of entering the race.

Who is Michael Bloomberg?

Michael Bloomberg is the former mayor of New York City, and one of the wealthiest people on the planet. His net worth is estimated to be around $36 billion, making him the fourteenth richest person in the world and far wealthier than Donald Trump.

What Trump lacks in terms of comparing assets with Bloomberg is more than made up for when comparing fame. A recent poll found that 43 percent of the electorate didn’t recognize Michael Bloomberg’s name, despite the fact that he has an eponymous media empire, Bloomberg L. P. Trump happens to be so well-known that 96 percent of registered voters can identify him based on his picture alone.

Where does he stand politically?

Bloomberg is an independent. However, prior to being an independent, he ran for and won the Mayor’s office as a Republican. But prior to that, he has long been a registered Democrat.

On the national scene, his positions definitely skew toward the liberal side of the aisle. He strongly favors gun control, reproductive rights and action on climate change. These three positions rule out any chance of his appealing to a sizable portion of the Republican base.

But there’s considerable reason for the left-wing to be critical of Bloomberg. Perhaps most controversially, he is strongly associated with the policy of “stop and frisk” policing that was widely despised for apparently targeting racial minorities. With Black Lives Matter becoming a force to be reckoned with for liberal candidates, Bloomberg will surely face a lot of opposition should he commit to running.

He’s also been criticized for authoritarian tactics both from the right and the left. He’s infamous in some circles for his proposing a ban, ultimately struck down, on large sodas, as well as for expanding smoking bans. His takeover of the city school system, clashes with labor unions and aggressive crackdowns against Occupy Wall Street protesters also drew the public’s ire.

Why would he enter the race now?

This has hardly been a run-of-the-mill election cycle, and Bloomberg seems to think the unique qualities of the field may present an opening for a moderate liberal breakthrough candidate.

According to the New York Times, Bloomberg doesn’t want to run against Hillary Clinton. But if Bernie Sanders secures the Democratic nomination, and either Trump or Cruz become the Republican candidate, Bloomberg may think it’s worth it to join the fray.

Sanders

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Why? Bloomberg is certainly to Sanders’ right, representing the more business-friendly side of the Democratic coalition. With Trump or Cruz running on the right, there may be substantial room for a sensible-seeming moderate to pick up votes that would have otherwise gone Republican. If enough Democrats were to  sour on Sanders, this could provide Bloomberg the plurality he’d need.

Let me emphasize could. On the whole, a winning scenario for Bloomberg seems very unlikely. What’s worse, some prominent liberals have expressed concerns that an ill-planned Bloomberg run could end up handing the presidency to the former star of The Apprentice.

For Sanders to win the Democratic primary, after all, he will have to pick up a larger share of the base’s support than he currently has. This is definitely possible as the battle for primary states draws on, especially if he secures some impressive early victories. But for him to edge out Clinton’s lead among Democrats, he would have to excite them with his ideas and enthuse them about the prospects for his presidency.

It’s clear how Sanders can do this. His left-wing platform and aggressive stand against business has impressed many Democrats so far, and it’s not hard to imagine more getting on board. But it’s not clear how Bloomberg would do this. Some of his policies may have some appeal in the Democratic Party–for example, his support for school choice certainly has a coalition. But it’s not enough to build a movement on, the way Sanders has.

Or, perhaps more importantly, it’s not enough to build a Trump-like movement. Trump is in many ways as out of the mainstream of GOP politics, particularly with his views on government spending. But his championing the nationalist and anti-immigrant cause, along with his own unique showmanship, has earned him astounding support from the Republican base.

For Bloomberg to pull this off on the left he’d likely need his own cause to champion. A cause that could rally the left like anti-immigrant attitudes have rallied the left. But he hasn’t come up with this idea yet–and it’s certainly not smaller soda cups.

Photo Credit: Ralph Alswang (edited)

54 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Nimue Pendragon

This bloke has a history of changing sides, so therefore must be considered as unreliable at best. Does he do any good with his billions or does he just like to count it?

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Erin H.
Erin H1 years ago

For nearly 40 years, predatory grillionaires have been brazenly stealing everybody else's happiness -- the lives we were meant to live. Their greed has taken far more than money! How anybody could want one of these sociopathic pirates to be our president is beyond me.

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Peggy B.
Peggy B1 years ago

We don't need the same families running the country, we don't need religious zealots that hypocritically judge. We need someone who is genuinely trying to get rid of corruption and bring the US back to one of the top 10 best quality of living countries in the world. Obama has brough it back up from where it dropped during Bush's administration, but still not in the top 10. There's only one candidate that wants to do that. Only one candidate that the people that we do respect their opinion is endorsing. That's Sanders. The odd looking normal man that is truly one of us.

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Jennifer Manzi
Jennifer Manzi1 years ago

ugh, screw him. The rich really don't want Bernie to win, what's that tell ya

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Dt Nc
Dt Nc1 years ago

Hope he wise up and not waste his time

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Dt Nc
Dt Nc1 years ago

Danke

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Roslyn McBride
Roslyn McBride1 years ago

Don't you get sick of never-ending politics?

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Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer1 years ago

What an election year!!!!

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Ruth R.
Ruth R1 years ago

Noted.

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