Run, Bloomberg, Run

Earlier this week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he is switching his political party affiliation from Republican to Independent, a move widely seen as a precursor to a possible third party presidential bid in 2008.  (See here and here.)  While Bloomberg repeatedly has denied that he is interested in running for President, most observers discount his protestations as mere political artifice, not sincere expressions of his lack of presidential ambitions.

Bloomberg's switch is interesting on several levels, but the question that is foremost on the minds of Republicans and Democrats alike is:  How would a Bloomberg third party campaign influence the outcome of the 2008 race?  My own opinion is that if Bloomberg enters the race as a third party candidate, and uses his enormous personal wealth to fund an active, nationwide campaign, this will redound to the benefit of the Republican Party candidate.

My reasoning is simple:  I believe that potential Bloomberg voters will be drawn disproportionately from the ranks of those who otherwise would vote for the Democratic Party candidate.  See Ralph Nader, whose third party campaign helped elect George W. Bush in 2000; from the opposite side of the spectrum, see Ross Perot, whose third party campaigns helped elect Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

Let's not forget that, until recently, Bloomberg was a registered Democrat.  He only joined the Republican Party in 2001 to be a viable candidate to succeed Rudy Giuliani as mayor of New York City.  As everyone should know by now, under Giuliani's leadership (1994-2002), New York City enjoyed a remarkable urban renaissance, with sharply falling crime rates, lower taxes, strong economic growth, and the transformation of the city from a gritty, smutty, forbidding landscape into a safe, thriving, confident metropolis.  In this environment, no Democratic Party or Green Party candidate -- synonymous with taxes, welfare, racial tensions, crime, and urban decay -- could have been elected mayor.  So Bloomberg made the calculated move to the Republican Party, pledged to maintain Giuliani's policies, and was elected.

Bloomberg may be a rich businessman, but he is no believer in economic freedom.  As mayor he has supported higher taxes and more government regulations, e.g., city-wide bans on smoking in bars and restaurants, and on the use of artificial trans fats by restaurants and bakeries.  By word and deed, Bloomberg has more than earned the appellation "Nanny-in-Chief."  Most tellingly, he has been in the forefront of a sweeping campaign to make New York City a "green city" in order to combat the supposed evils of "global warming."  This included a proposal to impose heavy fees on automobile traffic in Manhattan (which the state legislature appears to have killed).  In addition, Bloomberg is adamantly opposed to the Second Amendment, and has sent New York City investigators into other states to obtain evidence to use in lawsuits against out-of-state gun dealers.  He is pro choice on abortion.  He is pro gay marriage.  And on and on and on.  In fairness to Bloomberg, New York City has continued to thrive during his mayoralty, but that is more a consequence of the reforms achieved by Giuliani, than anything for which Bloomberg deserves the credit, other than not disrupting the reforms.

Assuming for the sake of argument that the Republican and Democratic nominees in 2008 are Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, it seems clear that a Bloomberg candidacy will siphon more votes away from Clinton than from Giuliani.  It goes without saying that Bloomberg himself will have no chance of winning the election.

Plainly, nothing about Bloomberg will recommend him to conservative and Republican-leaning voters.  Yes, conservative voters also have qualms about Giuliani.  But they hardly will be more likely to vote for Bloomberg, who is weak on every issue that is important to conservatives, not just social issues.  Moreover, Giuliani has made a concerted effort to address many of the concerns of conservative voters (albeit not always persuasively), including expressly pledging  that he will "end illegal immigration, secure our borders, and identify every non-citizen in our nation"; that he will "cut taxes and reform the tax code"; that he will "give Americans more control over and access to health care with affordable and portable free-market solutions"; and that he will "increase adoptions, decrease abortions, and protect the quality of life for our children."  Neither Bloomberg nor Clinton will run on a remotely similar platform.

On the other hand, Bloomberg should have much greater appeal for liberal voters.  While his policy views are very similar to Clinton's, he will bring to the race his own significant successes in business, his aura of managerial competence and expertise, and his eight years of executive leadership as mayor of New York City.  He also is a confident and effective public speaker.  Indeed, he is very much like Mitt Romney in these respects.  Of course, these traits have not generated much traction for Romney vis-à-vis his Republican primary competitors.  However, I think Bloomberg will be able to capitalize on them during the general election, when liberal and Democratic-leaning voters will compare him to Clinton.  I predict that a substantial number of such voters (especially men?) will view Bloomberg as a superior leader and a better choice for President than Clinton.

The upshot is that if Bloomberg makes a serious run for President in 2008, I predict that Clinton will lose more votes to his candidacy than Giuliani.  Like Perot's campaigns in 1992 and 1996 and Nader's campaign in 2000, this could have a significant impact on the outcome of the election, and very likely will help the Republican Party candidate carry the day.  So what more is there to say, but . . .

Run, Bloomberg, run! 

Steven M. Warshawsky is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.
Earlier this week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he is switching his political party affiliation from Republican to Independent, a move widely seen as a precursor to a possible third party presidential bid in 2008.  (See here and here.)  While Bloomberg repeatedly has denied that he is interested in running for President, most observers discount his protestations as mere political artifice, not sincere expressions of his lack of presidential ambitions.

Bloomberg's switch is interesting on several levels, but the question that is foremost on the minds of Republicans and Democrats alike is:  How would a Bloomberg third party campaign influence the outcome of the 2008 race?  My own opinion is that if Bloomberg enters the race as a third party candidate, and uses his enormous personal wealth to fund an active, nationwide campaign, this will redound to the benefit of the Republican Party candidate.

My reasoning is simple:  I believe that potential Bloomberg voters will be drawn disproportionately from the ranks of those who otherwise would vote for the Democratic Party candidate.  See Ralph Nader, whose third party campaign helped elect George W. Bush in 2000; from the opposite side of the spectrum, see Ross Perot, whose third party campaigns helped elect Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

Let's not forget that, until recently, Bloomberg was a registered Democrat.  He only joined the Republican Party in 2001 to be a viable candidate to succeed Rudy Giuliani as mayor of New York City.  As everyone should know by now, under Giuliani's leadership (1994-2002), New York City enjoyed a remarkable urban renaissance, with sharply falling crime rates, lower taxes, strong economic growth, and the transformation of the city from a gritty, smutty, forbidding landscape into a safe, thriving, confident metropolis.  In this environment, no Democratic Party or Green Party candidate -- synonymous with taxes, welfare, racial tensions, crime, and urban decay -- could have been elected mayor.  So Bloomberg made the calculated move to the Republican Party, pledged to maintain Giuliani's policies, and was elected.

Bloomberg may be a rich businessman, but he is no believer in economic freedom.  As mayor he has supported higher taxes and more government regulations, e.g., city-wide bans on smoking in bars and restaurants, and on the use of artificial trans fats by restaurants and bakeries.  By word and deed, Bloomberg has more than earned the appellation "Nanny-in-Chief."  Most tellingly, he has been in the forefront of a sweeping campaign to make New York City a "green city" in order to combat the supposed evils of "global warming."  This included a proposal to impose heavy fees on automobile traffic in Manhattan (which the state legislature appears to have killed).  In addition, Bloomberg is adamantly opposed to the Second Amendment, and has sent New York City investigators into other states to obtain evidence to use in lawsuits against out-of-state gun dealers.  He is pro choice on abortion.  He is pro gay marriage.  And on and on and on.  In fairness to Bloomberg, New York City has continued to thrive during his mayoralty, but that is more a consequence of the reforms achieved by Giuliani, than anything for which Bloomberg deserves the credit, other than not disrupting the reforms.

Assuming for the sake of argument that the Republican and Democratic nominees in 2008 are Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, it seems clear that a Bloomberg candidacy will siphon more votes away from Clinton than from Giuliani.  It goes without saying that Bloomberg himself will have no chance of winning the election.

Plainly, nothing about Bloomberg will recommend him to conservative and Republican-leaning voters.  Yes, conservative voters also have qualms about Giuliani.  But they hardly will be more likely to vote for Bloomberg, who is weak on every issue that is important to conservatives, not just social issues.  Moreover, Giuliani has made a concerted effort to address many of the concerns of conservative voters (albeit not always persuasively), including expressly pledging  that he will "end illegal immigration, secure our borders, and identify every non-citizen in our nation"; that he will "cut taxes and reform the tax code"; that he will "give Americans more control over and access to health care with affordable and portable free-market solutions"; and that he will "increase adoptions, decrease abortions, and protect the quality of life for our children."  Neither Bloomberg nor Clinton will run on a remotely similar platform.

On the other hand, Bloomberg should have much greater appeal for liberal voters.  While his policy views are very similar to Clinton's, he will bring to the race his own significant successes in business, his aura of managerial competence and expertise, and his eight years of executive leadership as mayor of New York City.  He also is a confident and effective public speaker.  Indeed, he is very much like Mitt Romney in these respects.  Of course, these traits have not generated much traction for Romney vis-à-vis his Republican primary competitors.  However, I think Bloomberg will be able to capitalize on them during the general election, when liberal and Democratic-leaning voters will compare him to Clinton.  I predict that a substantial number of such voters (especially men?) will view Bloomberg as a superior leader and a better choice for President than Clinton.

The upshot is that if Bloomberg makes a serious run for President in 2008, I predict that Clinton will lose more votes to his candidacy than Giuliani.  Like Perot's campaigns in 1992 and 1996 and Nader's campaign in 2000, this could have a significant impact on the outcome of the election, and very likely will help the Republican Party candidate carry the day.  So what more is there to say, but . . .

Run, Bloomberg, run! 

Steven M. Warshawsky is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.