Don't buy the hype about a Bloomberg presidential run

But Bloomberg’s challenge wouldn’t be ballot access, it would be the Electoral College. Even if an independent candidate managed to win 35 percent of the popular vote nationwide, it would be hard to carry a majority of the Electoral College. There hasn’t been an election since 1824 in which no presidential candidate has won a majority of the Electoral College. Should that happen in 2016, the next president would be selected by an insiders’ election in the House, with each state’s delegations casting one vote, and a majority needed to prevail. Right now, Republicans control a commanding 34 state delegations, Democrats have a majority in 14, and two are split evenly. Given that every House member is a Democrat or Republican, an independent’s chances of victory are slim.

Ross Perot set a modern standard of success as an alternative candidate in 1992 when he won 19 percent of the popular vote against Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. But he didn’t win a single electoral vote.

There is real doubt that Bloomberg could equal Perot’s showing. In a Morning Consult poll out this month, Bloomberg gets only 13 percent support running against Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a potential three-candidate matchup. Independents, the constituency that Bloomberg would most have to rally, would give him only 18 percent of the vote. (He would take 12 percent of Republicans and 9 percent of Democrats.)

In 2013, Bloomberg conducted an exit interview with New York magazine as he prepared to leave the mayor’s office in New York. The idea of him running for president was “just impossible,” he said. “I am 100 percent convinced that you cannot in this country win an election unless you are the nominee of one of the two major parties. The second thing I am convinced of is that I could not get through the primary process with either party.”