Although he isn't going to run, I think it wouldn't have been crazy for him to run. Yes, he is a short Jewish Billionaire New Yorker. However, four factors would really help him: the large independent base in the country, economic troubles, his economic and managerial experience, and the divisive primaries.
The plausibility of an independent win is suverely underestimated. Perot, who both dropped out of the race and has a much worse resume than Bloomberg, at one point led in the polls and finished the presidential election in 92 with roughly 20 % of the vote. Unity 08 would also get him on the ballot.
Secondly, Bloomberg's campaign strategy would center chiefly on the economy. In US elections, the economy tends to be the first and most important issue, especially in economic downturns. He should plan to focus on the economic concerns of voters, to highlight Mayor Bloomberg’s executive experience on managing economic issues in both the private and public sector, and to contrast this strong record with the weaker economic records of Senator Obama and Senator McCain.
Recent polling data shows the extent to which Americans are displeased with the current state of the country and the economy. According to an AP Poll taken in February, 71% of voters are dissatisfied with the state of the country. By a margin of almost 15 percent, voters cited the economy as the most important problem facing the country today according to a CBS News/NY Times Poll from late February. Not only are voters dissatisfied and worried mainly about the economy, they also strongly disapprove of the job both parties are doing. 74 % of voters disapprove of Congress (Democratic) and 62% of Bush (Republican). In short, American’s are frustrated with Washington and are mainly concerned with the economy.
Although a focus on the economy appeals broadly to American voters, economically vulnerable working and middle class voters will find this message particularly appealing. According to a Survey USA poll from 1/14/2008, voters with annual incomes below $40,000 supported Bloomberg more than other voters in a hypothetical Obama-Bloomberg-McCain match up. These polling results align with the academic literature on third party support. Monson and Lacy (2002) find that third-party candidates tend to be young, male, lower in education, liberal on social issues and fiscally conservative. While Obama appeals to young voters, our campaign will target voters who fit the profile of traditional 3rd-party supporters. Moreover, the campaign could obtain old Perot campaign mailing lists to target these voters. With these groups, Bloomberg’s message will focus on a common sense, post-partisan approach to problems.
In addition to the state of the economy, the divisive primary contests of both parties also facilitate a Bloomberg victory. Democrats remain deeply divided between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. Assuming that Obama wins, we will aggressively court former Clinton supporters. Not only does Clinton espouse relatively moderate positions (consistent with her husband’s involvement in the Democratic Leadership Council), but Obama’s momentum and message did not persuade her former supporters. Bloomberg’s pro-choice, pro-education, pro-environment record will appeal to Clinton supporters. Moreover, Bloomberg’s progressive immigration policies tend to resonate with Hispanic voters, who have strongly supported Senator Clinton. Women, one of Clinton’s strongest demographic groups, will likely favor Bloomberg’s strong record on education and abortion rights. Finally, he could also target elderly voters who often question Senator Obama’s experience and support other candidates. In sum, we will target Senator Clinton’s supporters, especially Hispanics, women and voters over 45.
On the Republican side, McCain has struggled to win over the Republican base and convince fiscal conservatives about his command of economic matters. Since Mike Huckabee often attracts a large contingent of social conservatives with whom Bloomberg tends to be less popular, we will target former Romney supporters, who tend to be fiscally conservative and suspicious of McCain. Romney, like Bloomberg, is a businessman turned politician committed to balancing the budget and fiscal responsibility. As governor of Massachusetts however, he has a record of social liberalism that ultimately made him a less viable Republican candidate. Voters who preferred Romney in the primaries probably prioritize fiscal conservatism and would be likely to support Bloomberg in his presidential bid. Furthermore, fiscal conservatives who do not favor an extended occupation of Iraq will likely consider Bloomberg.