News from the Votemaster
There has been a lot of speculation about New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg running for President lately. Charlie Cook had a piece about it and there was an article in the L.A. Times today, among others. Bloomberg had a well-publicized meeting with Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) a few days ago, which has fuled speculation about a Bloomberg/Hagel independent ticket. Bloomberg is term-limited as mayor of New York and is unlikely to challenge popular governor Eliot Spitzer in 2010 leaving the presidency as his only serious option.
Third party bids for the presidency always run into a simple problem: money. Each of the major party candidates this year will probably spend something like $200 million on the campaign. The only other billionaire ever to run for President was Ross Perot (in 1992 and 1996), but Perot was a newcomer to politics and a cheapskate. He was more interested in putting on a show than actually becoming President.
Bloomberg is different. He has an estimated wealth in excess of $5 billion and has already been elected to competitive office twice--and running for mayor of New York (a very Democratic city) as a Republican is no mean feat. Rumor has it that he wouldn't think twice about simply writing his campaign a check for $500 million. With more money than the Democrats and Republicans combined, he would instantly become a serious candidate.
But could he win? Unlikely. Remember that to win the presidency outright you have to get 270 electoral votes. This means you have to come in first in a dozen or more states. Both the Democratic and Republican parties have a fair number of hardcore partisans who will never stray, no matter what. How many varies from state to state, but it is almost always at least 30% of the electorate for each party. With 60% of the vote off the table, Bloomberg would have to capture nearly all the remaining voters to actually win the state. This will be very hard to do in a dozen or more states, especially the larger states, which have more than 30% partisan Democrats.
It is conceivable, though, that a Bloomberg candidacy could pull in enough electoral votes, say 30-50, to prevent any candidate from getting the required 270. In that case, the election would be thrown into the House of Representatives, where every state gets one vote. Wyoming gets one vote but so does California. Thus the party controlling the most state delegations could elect its own candidate. Currently, the Democrats control 26 state delegations, the Republicans control 21 state delegations, and Arizona, Kansas and Mississippi are split evenly and presumably would not be able to agree on a candidate (see map below). It seems very unlikely that even a single state would pick Bloomberg, no matter how well he did. If the House deadlocked, say 25-25, the Vice-President, chosen by the Senate (with each senator having one vote), would become acting President until a new House was elected in 2010.
A key question is: who would Bloomberg hurt the most? I think it depends strongly on the candidates. So far, most Democrats seem happy with their choices. My guess is that with Clinton, Obama, Edwards or Richardson, most Democrats would vote for the Democrat rather than any Republican or Bloomberg, who is also a Republican (in name only). Polls have shown that six out of 10 Republicans are not happy with Giuliani, McCain, or Romney. Some of these might bolt to Bloomberg. On the other hand, if Fred Thompson gets the nomination, most Republicans would probably support him. But it is also possible that some liberal Democrats might prefer Mayor Mike, who is probably more liberal than Clinton or Obama.
The most interesting scenario would be a Clinton-Giuliani-Bloomberg race. That would offer a wide choice. Voters could then choose between- A pro-choice, pro-gay, liberal New York Protestant (Clinton)
- A pro-choice, pro-gay, liberal New York Catholic (Giuliani)
- A pro-choice, pro-gay, liberal New York Jew (Bloomberg)
Diversity galore! Turnout would no doubt be very high in New York, but perhaps somewhat lower in places like Alabama. If large numbers of Southern and Midwestern Republicans just stayed home, the Democrats could sweep the Senate and House races. Although the Republican get-out-the-vote operation is legendary, it could be a tough sell to convince people who abhored all three of the above to go to the polls just to vote for Congress.
Below is a table showing the election results for the top four parties in all presidential elections since WWII. As you can see, Ross Perot is the only third party candidate to have cracked even 15%. Even with his billions, Mayor Mike has a tough row to hoe.
Party abbreviations- (A) American Party
- (D) Democratic Party
- (DX) Dixiecrat Party
- (G) Green Party
- (L) Libertarian Party
- (NA) New Alliance Party
- (PG) Progressive Party
- (PH) Prohibition Party
- (R) Republican Party
- (RF) Reform party
- (SL) Socialist Labor Party
- (SW) Socialist Workers Party
- (SR) States Rights Party
This page is the prototype for 2008. The data and map will refer to previous elections until serious polls begin in 2008. The blog will be updated when there is interesting news about the 2008 races.Preview of the 2008 races: President Senate House
This map shows the current governors. Put your mouse on a state for more information.
This map shows the current Senate. Put your mouse on a state for more information.
This map shows the current House. Put your mouse on a state for more information.
-- The Votemaster