Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Shrum on Bloomberg

Now, Bob Shrum wouldn't be my first choice for advice on how to actually win a Presidential campaign. (Career record: 0-8). But he's certainly been around enough potential candidates to know how they think, and how they decide whether or not to run. He has an article up on HuffPost about Michael Bloomberg's departure from the GOP and recent flirtations with running for president:

Michael Bloomberg's decision to leave the Republican Party, to which he never properly belonged and only used as a political rest stop, was a masterstroke of timing. The decision not only engaged the chattering class and commanded the cable outlets, but made the network news. If Bloomberg is serious about running, the toe he just stuck in the water set off a considerable wave. He won't really decide whether to run until Tsunami Tuesday, when we'll probably have both a Democratic and Republican nominee; but moving this early creates a media and political environment in which he can test a potential candidacy. You can bet that within a week or two we will see general election polls with 3-way match-ups to gauge the Bloomberg effect. And he won't even have to pay for them.
Hanging back has certainly succeeded for Fred Thompson in the scramble for the Republican nomination, and it looks like it could work out well for Bloomberg, too. Will he decide to run? As Fz has pointed out, he's given mixed signals on the matter. Shrum believes that Bloomberg doesn't want to run just for vanity's sake (apparently, he's no Ralph Nader), but only if he thinks he has a shot:
My guess is that Bloomberg will do a tough analysis of whether he could carry enough targeted states where he could win with 37, 38, 39 percent of the vote -- even states like Ohio and West Virginia, where he could never prevail in a two-way race because of his position on gun control.

The question for him may not be whether the odds are in his favor -- they're not -- but whether he has some reasonable prospect of reaching the White House. That depends too on how satisfied or dissatisfied voters are with the major party choices. 2008 will be a year of change, and if both the Democrat and Republican look like establishment choices, Bloomberg could be the clear tribune of change.
The question is, will Bloomberg be a spoiler or a contender? It's difficult to tell before he jumps in just how much of a chance he'll have. What are the risks? Shrum asks:
If Bloomberg runs and doesn't win, who does he hurt? He certainly doesn't want to help Giuliani mount the inagural platform on January 20, 2009. He probably doesn't have to worry about that, since the Republicans aren't likely to nominate a pro-choice candidate the same year the Democrats offer a presidential nominee who opposes abortion rights. But as he and his advisors crunch the numbers, he may learn that he's likely to drain votes from almost any Democrat, without gaining enough of them to win himself. 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?
Now, not everyone agrees that a Bloomberg candidacy would hurt the Democrats. Chuck Todd and friends over at First Read have a different opinion:
Looking at voting patterns and the strength of both parties' bases, a true three-way race may help the Democrats more than the Republicans. Why? It’s simple -- the South. The irony of a Bloomberg candidacy is that it could make the Democrats more competitive in the South because their 35% base vote in the South is made up of die-hard Democrats.
Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg at NRO leans towards Shrum's way of thinking (that a Bloomberg candidacy would help the Republicans), but admits:
I have no idea what a Bloomberg candidacy would do to the race come the Spring. But I'm pretty sure no one else does either.
Ah, premature speculation. I love it. Because without it, we political bloggers would have nothing to do all summer!

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