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Why Bloomberg Won’t Win

June 22, 2007

Four reasons why the Mayor of New York should be ingored by savvy punters

Bloomberg doesn’t stand for much – For a candidate who attacks the Republicans and Democrats for failing to address the big issues, Michael Bloomberg has surprisingly little to say. Both supporters (like myself) and opponents of the reconstruction of Iraq believe that the next President needs to have a clear plan of action. However, although Bloomberg has criticised both supporters and opponents of the war for their lack of a plan he has remained quiet on what he plans to do. Indeed, when pressed to commit to a position he stated that, “its not a local issue and I don’t have anything to say. Similarly, he has failed to address any of the other issues.

2. He’s not that popular – Third party candidates usually fall into two categories; serious contenders and protest votes. In the former categories are candidates with enough initial popularity to make them serious contenders, which is usually about 25%. Examples of these are Jon Anderson in 1980 and Ross Perot in 1992 (John McCain would have started out with this level of support had he run in 2000 or 2004). This is important because in a FPTP system like America’s voters will eventually desert candidates who have no realistic chance of winning. Candidates who fail to maintain this level of support, like Anderson in 1980, or don’t have the support in the first place, like Henry Wallace in 1948 and Ralph Nader, will simply become irrelevant, except as spoilers. The latest polls, by FOXNEWS and SurveyUSA show that Bloomberg has about 7% support in a hypothetical match-up with Giuliani and Clinton.

3. You can’t simply write a cheque for the Presidency – The cliché that American politics is solely about the money, although partially true, is wildly exaggerated. Fundraising may be a necessary chore for all candidates but they are an essential part of building support. Getting 100 people to come to $10 barbecue may raise the same as one $1,000 donation but those who donate are more likely to contribute their time and effort and ultimately vote for the candidate. The candidates who have managed to leverage a personal fortune into success have all sought funding from elsewhere. JFK made a special point of building a network of supporters while Perot didn’t run until a massive volunteer effort had put him on the ballot on all state. Politics is littered with self financed vanity candidates, such as Steve Forbes, while the fact that Howard Dean had more funds than either Kerry or Edwards in 2004 didn’t help him one bit. If it cost $70m to pull his mayoral campaign back from a 10 point deficit in 2005, the amount of money that Bloomberg will need to even become a semi-credible force in American politics will possibly too much for even his fortune.

The charisma factor – One of the most important assets that any politician can have is the ability to inspire loyalty and a compelling enough narrative to justify why he (or she) should be elevated to the most important position in the free world. On the Democrat side Hillary appeals to those who want a return to the Clinton era while Barack Obama has the audacity of hype. Similarly, John McCain has a compelling narrative as a war hero and a maverick and Giuliani has the events of 9/11. Although Bloomberg has enjoyed a successful career as an entrepreneur and a solid term in office as mayor of New York he has not done anything to distinguish him from the other ranks of self made millionaires or local politicians. Indeed, his journey from Democrat to Republican to Independent, because it was marked by political necessity rather than a change in convictions or alienation.

I believe that Bloomberg’s resources could get him media attention and might possibly get him into double digits. However, not only does he have no chance of winning, his role in the Presidential race can only be a negative one, by preventing the possibility of a viable independent ticket.

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