How big an impact would a Bloomberg candidacy have?

Not big enough to win, thinks the WashTimes, but big enough to determine who will.

Is this tool really prepared to blow a billion clams on a vanity candidacy?

Speaking to The Times only on the condition they not be named because they do not think they can speak publicly for the mayor, these friends said that he has told them he will make the run if he thinks he would have an effect on the policies and issues that will drive the 2008 presidential contest.

They say a Bloomberg candidacy would make it difficult for the Democratic nominee to win the electoral votes of New York, as well as of Connecticut and New Jersey. All are blue-state must-wins for the Democratic nominee, but not for the Republican standard-bearer, whoever he turns out to be…

Most campaign professionals said that because Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Giuliani are liberal on social-policy issues, Mr. Bloomberg won’t run if it becomes clear by early February that Mr. Giuliani will get the Republican nomination. But a Republican who is a close friend — but not a presidential supporter of his — who has discussed the issue with Mr. Bloomberg said Mr. Bloomberg has enough lingering animosity for Mr. Giuliani that a Giuliani Republican nomination victory would not deter a Bloomberg third-party run.

As a New Yorker, it makes me giggle to think of Bloomberg running a national race because he essentially has no positions. I’ve lived here most of my life and I couldn’t tell you a single issue he feels strongly about, except of course for banning smoking in bars. He’s the anti-Rudy in that sense, which makes him an ideal third-party figure in a race between two high-profile nominees whose personalities tend to repulse the other side. If it’s Hillary versus Giuliani, the CW would be that Bloomberg would be neutralized because they’re both (perceived as) centrists and so there’s really no room in between for him to run. I think that’s wrong; with two hateworthy candidates to choose from, a pragmatist cipher could be a potent “none of the above” choice/protest vote for independents — in which case I think Bloomy will hurt the Republicans because people will naturally compare him to the guy who preceded him as mayor. (And the media will egg them on, highlighting ways in which Bloomberg improved upon Giuliani’s own record as mayor.) I’m not so sure who he hurts in a race between, say, Obama and Fred!, where both candidates are likeable albeit further towards the far end of their respective political spectrums. That leaves Bloomy with the center, in which case presumably he’d hurt Obama because they’ll have similar positions on the key issue, i.e., the war. But then again, given their similarity, why would anyone prefer dry toast like Bloomberg to the charisma machine known as Barry O?

Exit question: Assuming Bloomberg gets into the race, the best case scenario for the GOP is Hillary vs. Fred! and the worst case is Obama vs. Rudy. True or false?