It is being reported this morning that staffers to NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg will make an independent run at the White House in 2008. David Andleman reports in Forbes:
Folks close to New York City’s twice-elected mayor suggest that he’s made up his mind to end one of the city’s long-running rumors and become an Independent candidate for president. The date of his announcement? Pencilled in for right after Super Tuesday–Feb. 5.
Additionally, there is a lot of speculation that Rep. Ron Paul will also make an independent run at the Presidency. Dr. Paul will likely lead the fundraising pack for the GOP in Q4 2007 and much of that will likely go into a warchest for the general election.
Mr. Paul already has a solid base of support as he is polling as high as 7% nationally among the GOP, and if that is indeed the case, we can assume that he is at about 3% nationally overall. I would argue that this number is likely high, however, it does illustrate the point that Paul has a solid base.
If Ron and Mike both jump into the race in 2008, we will have four candidates with a good base of support and more influential than most 3rd party candidates. What will be interesting is to see what effect this has on the general election.
Both Ron Paul and Mike Bloomberg have close GOP connections. Ron is considered a Libertarian Republican and Mike, well, was elected Mayor of NYC as a Repub after converting from the Democratic party and is now a registered Independent.
I would argue that a Mike Bloomberg candidacy would hurt the democrats more than the Republicans, especially if Hillary is the nominee. Bloomberg has a legitimate moderate-liberal record and with all the baggage Hillary carries, he would be viewed as a solid and acceptable alternative for the Democrats. At the least he makes New York state up for grabs, and not only for him, but for the GOP candidate.
However, Bloomberg may not only negatively affect the Democrats, he would likely have a devastating affect on the GOP if Rudy Giuliani gets the nomination. Considering the already negative taste Giuliani has put in many Republicans’ mouths, me included, and the fact that Bloomberg and Giuliani have somewhat similar resumes; it is quite feasible that a large portion of Republican voters will vote for Mike, potentially throwing red states to Hillary (all the while throwing blue states to the GOP!).
I also think that Bloomberg could have a negative affect on Mitt Romney. One of the key platforms that Mitt runs on is his business record and his experience in the private sector, with Bloomberg coming from a similar background, he could take a significant percentage away from Mitt.
On the other hand, Mitt may prove to be the best bet against Bloomberg because of their similar backgrounds and the fact that Mitt is running in one of the two major parties. Voters may look at both Mitt and Bloomberg and think there is little difference between the two (remember that the average voter doesn’t get into the details of candidates like we nerds who blog) and decide that Mike doesn’t have a legitimate shot at winning so will vote for Mitt to keep Hillary out of office.
A Ron Paul independent campaign will have a much lesser affect on the campaign. While I wrote above that his national support may be as high as 3% across the board, it is unlikely that in any event, he would garner more than 1% nationally come Nov 2008. The places where Paul will likely have the most influence are states with very independent and libertarian thinkers. I could see Ron taking more than 1-2% of the vote in states like Vermont, New Hampshire, Texas, Montana, and Idaho. However, the only state that is really considered a swing state here is New Hampshire, so a Ron Paul candidacy would likely have less impact.
Additionally, Ron Paul will gather supporters from both parties. He will likely get a majority of the registered libertarian vote, and will get votes from the anti-war right and the capitalist-left.
Ultimately, if there are 4 real candidates running for President in 2008, we will be in for a wild ride. I think that would be fantastic for Democracy and hopefully open up our future elections to at least 3 legitimate candidates rather than 2. Further, it would not surprise me one bit to have Bloomberg win a few electoral votes and maybe even win New York or New Jersey, he simply wins a few votes, but not a state, it is quite possible that we will have no candidate reach the 271 minimum electoral count. If he happens to win a state or two, they will likely be “blue” states and he would push the election to the Republicans (unless Giuliani is the nominee).