The Spectator

The billion dollar president?

The billion dollar president?
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Republicans have had very little to cheer recently. The party’s approval rating in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is at a record low of 28% and the implosion of the Bush presidency is threatening to drag it down even further. So the news that the billionaire mayor of New York Mike Bloomberg has decided to quit the party sounds like another tale of Republican woe. But it is actually the best news the party has had in ages.

The logical explanation for Bloomberg bolting from the Republican fold is that he plans to run as an independent in the 2008 presidential election. If he does, that’ll hurt the Democrats far more than the Republicans as the positions on the issues that Bloomberg, who was a Democrat until 2001, takes are far more appealing to independents and liberals than conservatives. Also 70% of independents are leaning Democratic right now, so anything that dilutes this vote is good for the Republicans.

When you think about the states that Bloomberg will compete most strongly in it becomes clear how much he could hurt the Democrats. If the Democrats fail to win either California or New York, who combined give you almost a third of the electoral-college votes you need to be elected president, it will be monumentally difficult for them to take the White House and New York and California are the two states Bloomberg’s most likely to take. As a phenomenally popular mayor of the city he’ll be a formidable contender in New York—especially as he’ll have enough money to saturate the state with ads. While in California, he’ll probably have the endorsement of ‘The Governator’ and definitely enough cash to compete in all the state’s media markets. One thing's for certain, the 2008 presidential election just got even more unpredictable.