ARTICLE BY JACOB AUSUBEL
At a first glance, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg might seem like a formidable, even ideal presidential candidate. A successful business magnet, politician, and philanthropist, he has the experience necessary to be the next commander in chief. In addition, Bloomberg cannot be easily pigeon-holed into an ideological group. Throughout his lengthy political career, he has been a Democrat, Republican, and Independent. He holds views from all across the political spectrum and thus would, in theory, have a wide appeal. In an age when a record 43 percent of Americans identify as independents, not as Democrats or Republicans, Bloomberg could conceivably win a national election.
But if he runs, he will probably lose the election and lose badly. Not since the presidency of George Washington has an independent candidate won the White House. True, there have been years in which independents ran surprisingly strong campaigns. In 1980, John B. Anderson ran against incumbent Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, winning 6.6 percent of the vote. In 1992, Texas businessman Ross Perot received nearly 19 percent of the vote. However, neither candidate came close to winning, demonstrating the limits of an independent campaign. In short, history is not on Michael Bloomberg’s side.
For the record, I like Michael Bloomberg as a person. He is a moderate liberal and shares many views with me. According to OnTheIssues, he is pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-gun control, and pro-immigration reform. Due to his socially liberal and economically moderate views, I would feel comfortable with him as president.
However, I fear that a Bloomberg would act as a spoiler and ruin the Democrats’ chances of retaking the White House in 2016. Due to his socially liberal views, Bloomberg would be far more likely to take votes away from the Democrats than from the Republicans. In fact, with the left-of-center and liberal vote divided, the Republicans could conceivably win by a landslide.
Without Bloomberg in the race, the Democrats have a good chance of reclaiming the White House. According to RealClearPolitics, Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, by a margin of 2.7 percent. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders would defeat Trump by a larger margin: 5.3 percent. One recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll even suggests that Sanders would win by a staggering 15 percent margin.
In contrast, polls that include Bloomberg suggest a much closer race that might even favor the Republicans. For example, Donald Trump would win 37% to 36% in a contest against Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg (Bloomberg would receive 13% of the vote). Trump would narrowly lose against Bernie Sanders and Bloomberg (35% Sanders – 34% Trump – 12% Sanders). Both victories are within the margin of error and Trump could theoretically win both contests.
The consequences of a Republican landslide would not be pretty for the Democrats, to say the least. The Democratic Party would be left in shambles, devastated at both the federal and state levels. Already, the party has lost 900+ senate legislature seats, 12 governorships, 69 House seats, and 13 Senate seats. The Democrats’ additional loss of the executive branch would lead to a Republican monopoly over all levels of government.
Quite frankly, the thought of a Republican monopoly terrifies me for several reasons. A conservative leaning government would be less likely to pursue environmentally friendly policies. There would be major setbacks in terms of women’s reproductive rights. Depending on who becomes president, the United States might pursue an overly hawkish foreign policy. In essence, the United States would be worse off if Republicans controlled the executive branch.
These would not be the only consequences of a Republican victory in 2016. However, they illuminate the risk of a Bloomberg candidacy. If Bloomberg entered the race, then he would likely act as a spoiler. Trump, or another Republican, would implement fiscally irresponsible, socially regressive policies. Mr. Bloomberg, for the sake of America, please do not run as an independent. The State of the Union would be far stronger if a Democrat won the election.