Michael Bloomberg, a contender for an independent run for US President has announced he will not run though for a reason that just might be completely wrong. As a famous moderate (having been in both the Republican and Democratic parties) he might just have had a very rare shot at being the first independent to win since forever.
Here’s why, and what would have to happen:
- Donald Trump would have to win the Republican nomination. (I suspect he won’t, but it’s certainly possible.)
- The independent would have to win enough electoral votes to prevent either the Republican or Democrat getting 280.
If nobody has a majority of the electoral college, the house picks the President from the top 3 college winners. The house is Republican, so it seems pretty unlikely it would pick any likely Democratic Party nominee, and the Democrats would know this. Once they did know this, the Democrats would have little choice but to vote for the moderate, since they certainly would not vote for Trump.
Now all it takes is a fairly small number of Republicans to bolt from Trump. Normally they would not betray their own party’s official nominee, but in this case, the party establishment hates Trump, and I think that some of them would take the opportunity to knock him out, and vote for the moderate. If 30 or more join the democrats and vote for the moderate, he or she becomes President.
It would be different for the Vice President, chosen by the senate. Trump probably picks a mainstream republican to mollify the party establishment, and that person wins the senate vote easily.
To be clear, here the independent can win even if all they do is make a small showing, just strong enough to split off some electors from both other candidates. Winning one big state could be enough, for example, if it was won from the candidate who would otherwise have won.
Of course, if Trump or the Democrat already have a lock on the college, and the moderate can’t shake that, then the election will go to that candidate. (I don’t think Trump has a lock.) The Democrats would feel quite pissed that the moderate stole the election from their candidate, but still would have no choice. The moderate would probably have trouble with them. If the moderate likes Hillary, as Bloomberg does, he’s not going to do it. This is a selfish strategy, but it’s the cheapest way to the presidency in a long time. If they don’t spend much, they can even try it “just in case,” though at the cost of burning some bridges.
In addition, with the moderate only needing to win a small number of states, their campaign could be quite inexpensive. Perhaps they need only get on the ballot in the states where they have a chance. They certainly don’t need to spend much money other than in those states. The strategy will be radical enough and it would get a lot of free publicity, meaning the money spend would be low.
Will this happen? Bloomberg says no. I still think Trump won’t win the Republican nomination. And Clinton may still have a lock. But it’s an unusual situation to be sure.