Do Democrats have more to fear from a 3rd party challenge?

posted at 3:05 pm on November 29, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

Apparently you simply can’t keep some people from working, even when they are allegedly on vacation. Such is the case with Ed Morrissey, who unveils his latest column at The Week today. The subject is one which crops up every four years, though it generally winds up being more of a “slow news week” parlor game than a serious consideration: the possibility of a third party run for the White House. We’ve heard plenty of rumors on this subject already, but Ed’s focus is not on the names you hear most often.

The first votes have not yet been cast in the Republican primaries, and we’re already beginning to hear talk of independent runs for the presidency. In part, that springs from a sense of dissatisfaction — or at least surprise — with the way the primary field has performed this year, and with the candidates who appear to have risen to the top. Few would have guessed that after the surprising Tea Party triumph in the 2010 midterms, the top two contenders for the GOP nomination would be the man who implemented a precursor of ObamaCare and a longtime Beltway insider whose personal baggage had long kept him from serious consideration.

Barring a surprise in the next five or six weeks, there won’t be a candidate to quickly unite the conservative base, the moderates, and the independents. If the primary competition lasts deep into March and April, it will pit these elements of the Republican umbrella against each other. In that kind of environment, it’s possible that a schism could develop that produces an opportunity for an independent candidate — or perhaps more than one.

After providing a brief history of failed third party bids and the effect they’ve had on the eventual outcome, (or lack thereof) Ed observes that the most frequently cited GOP possibilities will probably stay on the bench. Those are Ron Paul and Sarah Palin. But there is another figure out there with both the financial clout and the extant national organization who might consider it, causing more trouble for the party of the donkey than the elephant.

Self-funding wouldn’t be a problem for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The multi-billionaire media mogul could easily follow the Perot model and launch a national campaign. This would hardly be a Republican nightmare, however, despite Bloomberg’s occasional affiliation with the GOP. There are few Republicans who would rush to the side of a notorious gun-control advocate who has pursued government mandates on salt use in restaurants and restrictions on outdoor smoking. Bloomberg’s most likely impact would be on northeastern states such as New York and Connecticut, two Democratic strongholds in which Republicans wouldn’t contend otherwise. Bloomberg could also draw votes away from Obama in Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, which would fatally weaken Obama’s already slim chances of winning a second term.

Of all the independent bid possibilities, Bloomberg’s is the most likely — or at least the least unlikely. Bloomberg took aim at Obama’s lack of leadership in the super committee debacle last week, perhaps signaling some consideration of a run for the White House. He could build an organization nearly overnight with his own funding, and Bloomberg might gain traction among those on the center-left and traditional Democratic donors on Wall Street who have grown disenchanted with the class warfare adopted by the Democratic Party, perhaps especially after the incitement of the Occupy movement — which Bloomberg also recently and repeatedly criticized.

I agree that Bloomberg could do it, and given his massive ego and apparent boredom with his current job, he just might. Obviously he wouldn’t win the White House, but would he have the impact Ed suggests? Yes, he might carry some votes in New York, particularly in the Big Apple, but somehow I can’t see it being enough to turn this bluest of states red for 2012. But he could seriously eat into Obama’s totals in some other, independent minded places like New Hampshire or – possibly – Minnesota. Far fetched, you say? They elected Jesse Ventura and Al Franken. I don’t think anything is off the table.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Michael Bloomberg isn’t popular enough in New York City to make that big of an impact in the northeast.

Red Cloud on November 29, 2011 at 3:08 PM

No, Minnesota didn’t elect Al Franken. there was corruption there.

Obama isn’t going to lose votes in PA. that is, unfortunately, a pipedream

kelley in virginia on November 29, 2011 at 3:11 PM

I think a 3rd party picks off the independents, and Obama needs them more than ever…the right 3rd party (not a Tea Party candidate) will devastate Obama.

right2bright on November 29, 2011 at 3:14 PM

I think bloomberg or ‘the donald’ would get less votes going 3rd than paul would?
L

letget on November 29, 2011 at 3:18 PM

You’ll notice among the big media types — whose companies do polling on third party options — the buzz from 8-12 months ago about e Bloomberg “No Labels” run has pretty much petered out, because he’s no longer seen as a threat to grab independent voters who in a two-person race would be more likely to vote for the Republican candidate than the Democrat. As of now, a run by Mayor Mike is seen as more likely to peel off swing voters who still lean Democrat, but are upset with Obama.

If any third party hopeful gains buzz over the next few months, it’s going to be Huntsman, if the media can’t boost him enough in New Hampshire in early January to make him viable as a GOP challenger. Huntsman, like Bloomberg, has the money to run a third part race (or, rather, has access to his dad’s Amex card to run a third part race), and would be more likely to woo swing voters who in a two-person race, would be more likely to lean towards the Republican nominee. A third party bid by Jon will be played up, while if Bloomie over the next few weeks starts hinting at a run, we’re going to see major stories in the media marking the anniversary of Mayor Mike’s Christmas snowstom boondoggle, to tamper any enthusiasm down.

jon1979 on November 29, 2011 at 3:18 PM

What’s Bloomie gonna run on, “I’m a man of the people,” or, “I’m richer than you”?

Akzed on November 29, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Who the hell would vote for this loser after his pathetic handling of OWS? We’re supposed to believe he could be a real hard ass with guys like “Dinnerjacket”???

tpitman on November 29, 2011 at 3:21 PM

This is what I’ve been predicting for a year now. Axelrod is going to set up a stalking horse third party run from a sensible moderate like Bloomberg with the intent of taking a fatal 3 or 4 percent from the Republican candidate, but it’s going to blow up in his face.

Fear is going to trump vanity for moderates next year. And on the left, Obama’s support is a mile wide but an inch thick. They support him resolutely under the presumption that he has a chance to win. If that outcome looks unlikely even for a scant week, you’ll see them run for the exits as cognitive dissonance kicks in. We’ve seen it as the “Obama is not really liberal” meme. Liberals can’t accept the fact that their policies are destructive and unmoored from the human condition, so the only explanation is that Obama himself is not liberal enough.

HitNRun on November 29, 2011 at 3:25 PM

Bloomberg took aim at Obama’s lack of leadership in the super committee debacle last week, perhaps signaling some consideration of a run for the White House.

Debacle? Debacle? Pot meets kettle — snowstorm fiasco, OWS & supernanny are enough to permanently end any chance at POTUS or any governorship. But if Mikey has money to blow, please do so, for the sake of winnowing Oboobi voters.

AH_C on November 29, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Slightly OT, but good news for Jimmy Carter fans:

Obama’s Job Approval Drops Below Carter’s
http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2011/11/29/obamas-job-approval-drops-below-carters

Did they do any polling back in James Buchanan’s day?

Chip on November 29, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Don’t count the Tea Party out. They don’t waste time and effort until it’s time to vote. The nominal ‘bosses’ of the Republican Party may think they are in control and will pick the ‘winner’.

We’ll see about that.

Or does the RNC want four more years of Barry Obama?

GarandFan on November 29, 2011 at 3:35 PM

No, Minnesota didn’t elect Al Franken. there was corruption there.

The fact that it was close enough to be stolen means an awful lot.

Bloomberg is a bit of a quandary for Dems. If the Wiki is to be believed, he is very left on social/domestic/control issues. On fiscal issues he goes both ways depending on the topic. People forget about the factionalism of Dem party.

I do agree that he would pull very few Repub votes though.

Dawnsblood on November 29, 2011 at 3:38 PM

But he could seriously eat into Obama’s totals in some other, independent minded places like New Hampshire or – possibly – Minnesota. Far fetched, you say? They elected Jesse Ventura and Al Franken. I don’t think anything is off the table.

The Ventura/Franken comparison really doesn’t work in this case. However, an always-peeved off left would eat at Obama’s numbers if a liberal/green/OWSer type ran as a 3rd party candidate.

whatcat on November 29, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Slightly OT, but good news for Jimmy Carter fans:

Obama’s Job Approval Drops Below Carter’s
http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2011/11/29/obamas-job-approval-drops-below-carters

Chip on November 29, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Actually pretty on topic. Republican John Anderson ran as 3rd party in 1980, but Reagan still beat Carter.

whatcat on November 29, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Chelsea Clinton has been hired by NBC News.

Just six weeks ago, Clinton was appointed to the board of IAC/InterActiveCorp, the Internet media conglomerate controlled by Barry Diller. For her efforts, Clinton will be paid about $300,000 a year in cash and incentive stock awards.

Not bad for a 31-year-old in graduate school.

J_Crater on November 29, 2011 at 3:57 PM

I could see Bloomberg running as a spoiler.
The media would portray him as the most Republicky Republican who ever Republicked.

NeoKong on November 29, 2011 at 4:48 PM

I love it, the one guy who could make Newt or Mitt look like a middle class pisher.

rockmom on November 29, 2011 at 4:56 PM

I think people are also forgetting about Ralph Nader.

rockmom on November 29, 2011 at 4:59 PM

I suspect Bloomberg would take fically conservative social liberals who otherwise would vote for Gringrich or Romney.

KW64 on November 29, 2011 at 5:14 PM

fiscally

KW64 on November 29, 2011 at 5:15 PM

If Bloomberg ran, he might siphon off enough votes in northeastern New Jersey so that a Christie-backed Republican could win a three-way race in NJ, which would represent a net swing of 30 Electoral Votes toward the Republican.

But he probably won’t run for President. Despite spending millions on his campaign, Bloomberg only won the 2009 NYC mayoral election by 4.4% over a Democrat. His bungled response to a blizzard last winter has left him even less popular in the Big Apple than in 2009, so a Presidential run would be too risky.

Steve Z on November 29, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Chelsea Clinton has been hired by NBC News.

Just six weeks ago, Clinton was appointed to the board of IAC/InterActiveCorp, the Internet media conglomerate controlled by Barry Diller. For her efforts, Clinton will be paid about $300,000 a year in cash and incentive stock awards.

Not bad for a 31-year-old in graduate school.

J_Crater on November 29, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Don’t look now, but doesn’t that make her a 1%er? At some point, hasn’t her family earned enough? Good grief.

herm2416 on November 29, 2011 at 7:31 PM

Please do not legitimized Franken’s election fraud by saying he is elected. He is not.

WannabeAnglican on November 29, 2011 at 7:43 PM

“Legitimize,” he meant.

WannabeAnglican on November 29, 2011 at 7:43 PM