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Who would a Bloomberg candidacy hurt?
Posted by: McQ on Friday, June 22, 2007

Michael Barone has a very interesting look at that precise question. The answer, well it could be either party. First the NY question where I felt a Bloomberg candidacy might put the state in play for the Repubs. Commenter shark said, 'no way'. Barone and polling agree with shark:
Fox News has a national poll showing that in a three-way New Yorker race (a real subway series!), Bloomberg would get just 7 percent of the vote, to 41 percent for Rudy Giuliani and 39 percent for Hillary Clinton. With Bloomberg out of the race, Giuliani leads Clinton 45 percent to 42 percent. In a Quinnipiac poll of New York State released yesterday, in a three-way race Clinton gets 43 percent, Giuliani 29 percent, and Bloomberg 16 percent; in a two-way race, Clinton beats Giuliani 52 percent to 37 percent. In other words, both polls show Bloomberg taking about equal percentages from Clinton and Giuliani. Where Bloomberg is best known, in New York City and its suburbs, he gets 22 percent and 21 percent.
Interesting. I don't think anyone believes that a different Republican candidate would do better than Giuliani, so if that poll were to hold, that's the best Reps could expect even with a Bloomberg candidacy.

From that poll, and with the understanding that Bloomberg would enter the race "well below the critical mass of support that he needs to be competitive with the major parties", Barone figures that Bloomberg would draw equally from Clinton and Giuliani (if they're the candidates). However, as Barone notes, with the money Bloomberg has, he can become much better known very quickly. So what gets Bloomberg into the race?
[A] key Bloomberg adviser has hinted that Bloomberg will decide to run only if one or both major party candidates show significant weakness.
Or as Barone points out, he'll use the Ross Perot formula. Perot entered the race late only after GHW Bush was dropping dramatically in the polls and bought recognition with his billions. Bloomberg would most likely follow the same scenario. That means he won't make a decision until after the candidates are selected through the primary process. And what should be obvious is if it is one weak candidate, he doesn't care which party that candidate comes from.

So to the question at hand ... who would he hurt worse? Says Barone:
In that context, which party would a Bloomberg candidacy hurt most? His now abandoned affiliation as a Republican doesn’t tell us much; he enrolled as a Republican only because it enabled him to get elected mayor without going through a Democratic primary dominated by a relatively small, left-wing electorate heavily influenced by public-employee unions. His positions on cultural issues are well to the left, even to the left of most or all the Democratic presidential candidates. As Opinion Journal’s James Taranto points out, Bloomberg favors same-sex marriage, a very aggressive form of gun control, federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, and abortion rights; he opposed the confirmation of Chief Justice John G. Roberts. On foreign policy, his views are less well known and certainly not tested; presumably he would run as a competent executive who could make dispassionate decisions.
What is obvious is Bloomberg is a political opportunist who has, in the past, changed parties like underwear depending on which gave him the greatest advantage at the time. I'm not sure, once this begins to be pointed out in earnest, how well this will sit with the electorate. He's a political chameleon and most people are very leery of those types.

But given the litany above, it would seem that Bloomberg is anything but a social conservative. And most recognize that he has a penchant for big government. So you'd begin to believe that he would probably hurt Democrats, right?

Bloomberg’s liberal stands on cultural issues suggest he would take more votes from the Democrat than the Republican.
Veteran Democratic speechwriter and campaign consultant Bob Shrum thinks that Bloomberg, with his liberal stands on cultural issues and his willingness to raise taxes rather than cut spending, will take more votes away from the Democratic nominee and asks, a bit plaintively I think, “Does the pro-choice, socially liberal Bloomberg really want to be responsible for electing another Supreme Court-packing, gay-bashing, gun-loving, domestic-program-slashing President?” Conservative public relations guy Greg Mueller has a similar analysis. He E-mails that what he’s telling conservatives is: "If Bloomberg gets in the race, he will take more votes from the Democrat nominee, certainly if it is Senator Clinton or Senator Obama — than a conservative GOP candidate. There are many, many independents, and some Democrats, who will simply not vote for Senator Clinton under any circumstances. And, there are still others who feel Senator Obama is too inexperienced. Bloomberg gives these voters a place to go, dividing the Democrat vote. Bloomberg could be to Senator Clinton or Senator Obama in ’08 what Ross Perot was to President George H.W. Bush in ’92."
So its settled then, right ... Bloomberg, by all indications would be a latter day Perot to the Democratic effort in '08.

Not so fast, says Barone:
But there’s countervailing evidence that a Bloomberg candidacy might take more votes from the Republican than the Democratic nominee. SurveyUSA pollster Jay Leve presents the following results from statewide polling, showing that a Bloomberg candidacy flips several Bush 2004 states with 43 electoral votes to Democrats against a couple of other Republicans (Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio) and, if Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee, several that everyone has assumed are safe Republican (Alabama, Kansas, Texas). (Here are Survey USA's numbers in the two-way races in these states and in three-way races, which deserve some further analysis.) But he also has numbers that show that if Giuliani is the Republican nominee, California and New York, with 86 electoral votes, are flipped toward the Republicans.
OK, shark, you can wipe the grin off your face ... see there's a poll which says Reps do take NY. Anyway, you can go to the article to peruse the polls. However, I'm less inclined to buy into the "he'll hurt Republicans worse than the Democrats" countervailing theory given Bloomberg's liberal stances on hot-button social issues. But stranger things have happened in politics.

Barone quotes David Frum from NRO to end his piece with something which Barone thinks is pessimistic but I see as an entirely plausible scenario although I'm not sure I buy into some of the reasons for the tactics or the last line:
Bloomberg's numbers will dwindle (as Nader's did). He will then face a stark choice: accept that he's been made a monkey of—or up the ante. Nobody gets to be as rich as Bloomberg if he is not a fierce competitor. So—assuming he has followed the path thus far—he will double down. He will go negative, filling the airwaves with harsh attack ads.

Against whom will those ads be aimed? A lot will ride on that question. Attack ads are dangerous things, because they damage both the attacker and the attackee. Their main effect is not to change votes from D to R or R to D, but to depress turnout among potential supporters of the targeted candidate. Candidates refrain from excess negativity for fear of damaging their own image. But a Bloomberg in the polling basement will feel no such constraint.

The ads will be a free gift to the candidate Bloomberg dislikes less at the expense of the candidate he dislikes more.

And the candidate he dislikes more will almost certainly be the Republican.
Yes, I think he will go negative quickly if he gets into the race. I think he will aim his negativity at the Republican candidate more than the Democratic candidate based on his social stands (and the announced position of the Republican candidate) but the possible outcome may be splitting the Democratic vote moreso than "depressing turnout" among supporters of the targeted candidate.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I don’t think he’ll hurt anybody. If he enters, I think he’ll spend a lot of money, and capture something on the close order of 1-2%. Only in a very close election would the Bloomberg factor make a difference.

Only if New York is the decisive state would Bloomberg matter. I don’t expect that, though I concede that it’s possible.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Billy, if a Bloomberg candidacy suddenly puts NY in play, that’s a huge hit for the Democratic Party. They’ll have to spend resources defending 33 votes that they would normally have locked up.
Written By: steverino
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Look for Bloomy running on the Nanny line on your ballot.

Written By: shark
URL: http://
Oh man, the NRA would go absolutely crazy if he ran and they’re not shy about making their views known.
I just don’t see GOP voters choosing him over the GOP candidate anywhere except maybe NYC. And what does it matter who those 8 people vote for anyway?
Written By: Veeshir
URL: http://
The Shrum and Barone analyses aren’t inconsistent. Right now (or at least a couple days ago) most people knew Bloomberg as the Republican mayor of New York, if they knew him at all. That will change as a campaign progresses and people become more familiar with his issue positions. I really have a hard time believing he hurts the Republican in the long run.
Written By: Sean
I think it’s safe to say that Bloomberg won’t be taking any Republican votes in Virginia, and Virginia was supposed to be the great battleground state for this election. As I told Jon immediately after hearing the Bloomberg news, it’s all going to come down to where the candidates are on the war. If Bloomberg takes an anti-war/bring-em-home-now position (most likely) then I think he digs into the Dem electorate, especially if HRC is the candidate.
Written By: MichaelW
The Shrum and Barone analyses aren’t inconsistent
Who cares what Shrum says? The guy has never won a Pres. election for his candidate if I remember correctly. That’s like asking the GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates for his opinion on certain players...
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Correct me if I am wrong, and lord knows I often am, but isn’t Michael Bloomberg the political equivalent of a crack slut? Hillary Clinton may be all over the map, but at least it is within the confines of that party of anarchy known as the democrats. Mayor Boomberg is simply a man who rode Guliani’s coattails to power, and is now bored. What is a poor billionaire to do?

Anyway, I would consider it an honor and a privilege if you would add my blog "The Tygrrrr Express" to your list of linked sites
if you feel the quality is high.

I came across your blog through Michelle Malkin’s website, since I enjoy her

Happy summer.

Written By: eric

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