Palin’s path to the presidency

Bloomberg is well aware, because his advisers have flatly told him, that the White House is fretting about his entering the race and that this fear is what has motivated their sycophancy toward him lately. But the flattery must seem puzzling to the mayor, since the administration, in his view, has ignored his advice to be more supportive of business and stop trashing Wall Street, which, naturally, he believes would help save Obama’s bacon—a result that, in turn, would be the greatest deterrent to Bloomberg’s running.

Assuming that Palin were the nominee, just how much further would Obama have to slip for that to happen? Not long ago, I asked a person close to Bloomberg, who said that if the president’s approval rating fell into the thirties, diving in might be irresistible to the mayor. But what if it was at, say, 42 percent—four points below its current level, according to the Gallup tracking poll? “Forty-two?” this person pondered, and then smiled impishly. “That might get him in there, too.”…

By the accounts of strategists in both parties, Bloomberg—especially with the help of his billions—would stand a reasonable chance of carrying New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, and California. Combine that with a strong-enough showing in a few other places in the industrial Northeast to deny Obama those states, and with Palin holding the fire-engine-red states of the South, and the president might find himself short of the 270 electoral votes necessary to win.

Assuming you still remember the basics from American Government 101, you know what would happen next: The election would be thrown to the House of Representatives—which, after November 2, is likely to be controlled by the Republicans. The result: Hello, President Palin!