So you thought there was room for only one billionaire political outsider from Manhattan to run for president…?
Largely overlooked because of The Donald’s domination and Bernie’s righteous rise is the political lane – or more accurately, the political autobahn – available to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run for president.
And Trump’s numbers from South Carolina along with Sanders’ staying power only make it more likely that he will get behind the wheel.
Why? Because these two unlikely, polarizing candidates are pulling many American voters in directions they did not expect to go.
On the Republican side, the central presidential policy of the favored frontrunner is a militarized round-up of millions of illegal immigrants.
Donald Trump’s idea of foreign policy is “kicking the sh*t” out of ISIS and marveling at North Korea’s demented dictator for executing his own uncle – reportedly by a pack of wild dogs, no less. (“This guy doesn’t play games.”)
On the Democratic side, the man dominating the debate erased a huge deficit in Nevada to give Hillary Clinton a startling scare (and who only lost Iowa by the slimmest of white, unkempt hairs) is a senator whose rants about corporate America are straight from the pitchfork populism of the early 1900s.
Bernie Sanders doubles federal spending with every speech. His ardent advocacy of central planning and the taxes he would raise would make even Marx and Engels blush.
Trump and Sanders are paving a path to the presidential race for Mayor Bloomberg.
And Hillary Clinton? Bloomberg may believe that it’s just as likely for her to win the White House as do a perp walk for compromising national security with her secret email server.
Either way, she’s a compromised candidate – and he knows it.
So the political landscape shows Mayor Bloomberg can run. And our recent national poll of likely voters shows that he has a shot to actually win.
Simply put, he would be the strongest independent candidate in modern history, the very second he announced.
Here are the numbers.
In a matchup between Trump and Clinton, more than half of all voters – 68 percent of swing voters – would consider supporting a new independent candidate.
An astounding 84 percent of voters would be willing to vote for “a genuine political Independent who could work with both political parties, was a very successful self-made businessman, had significant success as three-term mayor of a large city, and was willing to finance his own campaign.”
In a three-way race with Trump and Clinton, Bloomberg would start with nearly 30 percent of the vote.
Think about that for a second. He would be just outside the margin of error of Clinton and within shouting distance of Trump – having not spent a dime of his billions, and without a moment’s media coverage. That is one heck of a starting position.
His biggest strength is what voters have long sought – and still want, according to our poll – a candidate with “strong leadership skills” who can “work with both parties to get things done.” Trump, at best, can claim only half of that mantle.
What separates Bloomberg is a proven record on voters’ most pressing priorities: Spending, debt, and deficits. Turning a vast budget deficit into a significant budget surplus is his biggest single accomplishment – especially among Republicans.
But in the era of rage against Washington and Wall Street, shouldn’t being a fixture in New York financial circles – not to mention his $50 billion net worth – be major problems? Apparently not.
We gave voters ten different negative facts about him – from corporate investigations to mayoral scandals – and those two mattered the least.
So what does our research indicate is his biggest weakness? His self-serving campaign to change the term limit law so he could run for mayor again – and then arguing for changing it back after he left. He may be an outsider, but that smacks of a typical pol.
The pundit class has persistently failed to predict the themes of the 2016 race, whether it was the rocket rise of Trump to his enduring staying power… or Sanders’ unexpected challenge… to Clinton’s endangered frontrunner to shoe-in… and then back again. And that is what has made it such compelling viewing.
There is absolutely no doubt that Michael Bloomberg and his billions would roil this race even further. Bloomberg the man along with his message may match the moment better than anybody else.
In the words of another unlikely outsider who ran for president – and won – ‘you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’
David Merritt has been an advisor to three Republican presidential campaigns. He is currently managing director at Luntz Global Partners, the communications firm led by pollster and Fox News contributor Frank Luntz.