This following commentary doesn’t imply any endorsement, support or alignment. They’re simply my observations of why New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would be a competitive independent presidential candidate in 2012:
1. He starts out well-known nationally with a broad support core of city mayors and urbanists with whom he has worked for years to steep himself in knowledge about metropolitan matters.
2. He is very independently wealthy (worth over $15 billion) and can write his own check for the campaign. He need spend no time dialing for dollars with all the sleaze and risk involved. He can spend all his time on substance and organization.
3. His very demeanor and presence exudes a result-oriented character. His speech is crisp, not rambling, and he is not reluctant to recruit capable people. His mayor’s office is a large open bullpen where he works shoulder-to-shoulder with seven deputy mayors.
4. He has immense personal energy in part because he knows how to pace himself and will not wear himself out 24/7 on the campaign trail. There is a little of the Bohemian in him, going back to the '60s, that the younger voters may find appealing.
5. He has personally contributed to many non-profit groups and initiatives in addition to grants from his family foundation’s over the years. Both generate good will and indicate his specific priorities. No bloviating politician here.
6. In the next two years, the Republicans and Democrats will often be at loggerheads, mired in the gridlock of divided government. This turns many people off. These are the voters who look for independent candidates such as Bloomberg.
7. The percentage of voters registering as independent is at an all-time high. In some states there are more independently registered voters than those registering as Republicans or Democrats. Independent voters are more likely to shift their allegiance than loyal partisan voters.
Bloomberg has received criticisms on numerous issues, but he panders less than any national politician.
8. Bloomberg’s money can overcome the many ballot access obstacles enacted by the two-party duopoly, that so bedevil and wear down impecunious third-party or independent candidates. He will be hard to keep out of the presidential debates, as his poll numbers will exceed the threshold of the two-party created Presidential Debate Commission.
9. Bloomberg has received criticisms on numerous issues, but he panders less than any national politician. As mayor he has taken on the NRA all the way to Congress. He has enraged the tobacco industry and saloon owners with his no-smoking ordinances, angered the food industry and restaurants with his drive against sugar and transfats. Recently, he stood tall against heavy pressure and supported the right of an Islamic cultural center to locate in lower Manhattan.
10. In 2012, the political stars are aligned for his kind of presidential run. There is deep disappointment with both parties even within their own ranks. Millions of people are anxious and insecure in a down economy for the many, even as the few make the profits and secure the wealth. These conditions increase the number of voters likely to bolt from their status as hereditary voters—Republican or Democrat. This likelihood is a key factor in Bloomberg overcoming a winner-take-all, electoral college system.
11. Bloomberg is an entrepreneur’s dream. Starting in 1980 with very little of his own money but equipped with remarkable foresight about the trajectory of the electronic information revolution, he took on and overcame the existing media giants—Dow Jones and Reuters, which were slow to read the tea leaves. Bloomberg News is now the fastest growing, most innovative, profitable media empire in the country.
12. Bloomberg can be thin-skinned but unlike Ross Perot, he doesn’t lose control of himself. Perot dropped out in a fit in mid-1992 and then returned to the race; he still received an amazing 19 million votes under the Reform Party banner. People are more ready now for an alternative choice to the squalid Republican and Democratic Parties.
13. Nowadays, people do give billionaires the benefit of the doubt—to wit—“he can’t be bought;” “he was very successful and met a large payroll;” “he doesn’t owe the fat cats anything,” “he’s not going to be a wild, unpredictable unknown,” “he has a stake in a stable system.”
14. He won’t have any trouble getting press or being included in polls. His wealth and lengthy tenure as the mayor of the nation’s largest city will assure that 2012 will turn into a three-way race.
15. He is known to be deeply dismayed with both parties and the abysmal inadequacy of leadership in Washington, D.C. in such critical times.
16. He has survived nine years as mayor of a turbulent city without any major scandal affecting him or making any immolating gaffes.
17. The established powers know he is no revolutionary to be feared. He has supported many city and state subsidies for city-based corporations so that they do not move to Hoboken. He is especially solicitous to the city’s financial industry as its best job-producer. Yet, he wants to make many changes—small and big—including tougher management of the swollen, fraud-ridden military budget and the unfairness of the tax system. Still, he induces confidence by the establishment. He is no upheavalist.
18. Right off he starts out in a good position to win most of the New England states, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Oregon, Washington state and quite possibly Florida. Remember, all he needs is a plurality of the vote in each state in a three-way race.
19. He has the ability to regularly micro-survey the national electorate and decrease miscues and illusions. Should these surveys show hereditary Republicans and Democratic voters drifting away in numbers significant enough for Bloomberg to win, he will announce. That degree of shift will be one of his most important tipping points.
20. He is already conversant with many policy issues and conditions in the country flowing from his detailed business and government experience. With Perot there were stumbles on topics because he wasn’t so well versed, preferring to concentrate on the deficit, foreign lobbyists, and bad trade deals.
21. As one who has moved from being registered as a Democrat to a Republican to a winning Independent, Bloomberg has comparatively more operating self-confidence and political courage than politicians that presently parade on the national scene. Moreover, he’ll get votes simply by not being an Obamabush.
Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate and frequent presidential candidate, wrote Unsafe at Any Speed.