A five-way race for president?

The New York Times is reporting that Mayor Michael Bloomberg “is growing increasingly enchanted with the idea of launching an independent presidential bid, and his aides are aggressively laying the groundwork for him to run.”

I was thinking about this yesterday, and depending on how things play out in the major-party nomination battles, I think we could see as many as five high-profile presidential tickets battling it out in November. If Huckabee — who is perceived as soft on illegal immigration — wins the GOP nomination, I think Lou Dobbs jumps into the race for sure. Meanwhile, Huckabee’s reputation for having a Carteresque foreign policy could open the door for a McCain independent candidacy… maybe a McCain-Lieberman ticket.

And if Bloomberg is pondering a presidential bid now, imagine how he’ll feel if the other options are the theocrat Huckabee, the nativist Dobbs, the warmongerers McCain and Lieberman, and… the populist crusader Edwards, perhaps? Bloomberg may be a nanny-stater, but surely he’s got enough of the businessman left in him to chafe at Johnny Boy’s extreme anti-corporate rhetoric. Moreover, an Edwards (or Obama) candidacy — as opposed to Hillary — would also beef up the rationale for a McCain-Lieberman bid, since at that point, all of the other options (Huckabee, Edwards/Obama, Dobbs, Bloomberg) would arguably not exactly inspire a great deal of confidence on the foreign-policy front.

So, how would such a race unfold? Nationally, I imagine that Republicans would be hopelessly divided among Huckabee, Dobbs and McCain, while Democrats would rally around Edwards to a much greater extent. Johnny Boy would very likely win a popular plurality nationwide — but of course, that doesn’t matter. What matters is the Electoral College, and such a five-way race would seriously open the possibility of an Electoral College deadlock. But of course, that would require at least three of the five to actually win some states, and Edwards to be held below 270. I imagine Huckabee would win some southern and western states, and it’s conceivable that Dobbs could pick up a couple of southwestern states.

The wild cards would be McCain and Bloomberg. If Mayor Mike could carry New York, and maybe a couple more northeastern states, that in itself might be enough to deadlock the Electoral College, combined with Huckabee’s support in the Bible Belt. But what is Bloomberg’s ideological base, exactly? Although nominally a Republican, he’s functionally a Democrat, and he’d have to pull significant support from centrist Dems. The problem is that, as I said, I imagine the Dems would rally around Edwards, both out of fear of Huckabee and out of an overwhelming desire to take back the White House after eight years of Bush-Cheney. Bloomberg would be painted as a potential Nader, and I suspect his candidacy would fade significantly in this environment.

The other possibility is that McCain could draw broad enough support from the center-left and center-right to pick off a few states. It’s hard to predict whether that would happen — and whether, if it did, it would take away so much from Huckabee that his southern strategy would fall apart. If the GOP splits badly enough, Edwards could even win pluralities in the Bible Belt.

Bottom line, as long as Edwards successfully moves to the center and tones down the angry populism a notch, I imagine he would probably win an electoral majority, possibly in a landslide (though many of his individual state margins would be sub-40% pluralities). But it would be an incredibly unpredictable campaign dynamic, and man, it’d be fun to watch.

P.S. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Ron Paul on the Libertarian line could draw Nader-like numbers.

P.P.S. If the Electoral College does deadlock, of course, the House of Representatives would elect the president, choosing from among the top three E.C. vote-getters. And the House votes not by individual member, but by state delegation. By my count, based on Wikipedia, the Democrats currently have a majority in 24 state delegations to the Republicans’ 22, with four delegations deadlocked. So neither party has a majority. That’s a very volatile balance, though; many states could flip with just one seat changing hands, and it’s the new House that would pick the president, if it came down to that.

14 Responses to “A five-way race for president?”

  1. Joe Mama says:

    Edwards has no chance.

  2. Brendan Loy says:

    Neither did Kerry, until he won Iowa.

    Edwards wins Iowa, he has a chance to win the nomination. And some of the polls show him in a dead heat in Iowa.

    And if Edwards wins the nomination, he has more than a chance, he’s the prohibitive favorite if the GOP splinters between Huckabee, McCain and Dobbs (or even two of those three).

  3. Sandy Underpants says:

    Americans hate mexicans more than terrorists, so I say Dobbs wins in a 5-way. If Bloomberg is getting in just because there are 15 candidates nobody really cares much for, the only difference his presence will make is that there will now be 16. And what about the black republican candidate nobody wants to talk about?!?!! He’s gotten less camera time than the black Ghostbuster.

  4. gahrie says:

    1) I just can’t see most people taking Dobbs seriously. He’d be easily dismissed as a one issue demagogue if he ever got in. Where’s he going to get the money to run by the way? Anybody who had money and wanted to push this issue would have already given his money to Tancredo or Hunter. Plus I just don’t see Huckabee winning the Republican nomination. He’s far too similar to Clinton for many, and not serious enough for the rest. In fact if he’s got a majority of delegates at the convention, I predict a revolt among the party faithful….hopefully drafting a Thompson type.

    2) I think Bloomberg is much more likely to run, but will stuggle to achieve Nader-like numbers.

    3) Of all your scenarios, McCain-Lieberman is most likely to happen, and I can see a national conciliation ticket attracting a lot of independent voters. I could see 10% of the vote going here easily.

    4) Alan Keyes (your mysterious Black Republican Sandy) was at one time a respected voice among Republicans. Unfortunately he appears to have gone insane.

    5) Here’s my dead money prediction:

    A) Hillary/Biden for the Democrats. The nutsroots bitch and complain, and threaten an outside candidate (Edwards?), but Kos backs down.

    B) Nader announces for the Green Party, and promptly gets attacked by the angry left.

    C) Romney/Giuliani for the Republicans. No one is very happy about the ticket. (Especially me. I believe Thompson is way and away the best, and most serious, candidate in either party)

    D) An attempt to draft a McCain/Lieberman ticket, but in the end, neither is willing to abandon their party.

    E) A Third Party run by a Republican. Thompson would be interesting, but probably won’t do it. Maybe Tancredo or Hunter. This would be to appeal to those that your proposed Dobbs ticket would be looking to.

    F) Ron Paul runs as a Libertarian.

    G) Result? Either the Republican or Democratic ticket wins, but with Clinton I type numbers….maybe 48% to 47% of the popular vote, and Bush II type electoral votes, one state deciding the issue.

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  6. Brendan Loy says:

    “Over 500 Signatures!”


  7. yea says:

    the odds of huckabee or edwards winning their respective nominations are close to nil.

    i think if bloomberg runs he’ll get perot like support if not better. bloomberg is fiercley intelligent and has created a sustrainable budget in NYC. he’ll likely spend up to 1 billion of his own money in a race and will target states that other candidates ignore to get electoral votes. unless obama got nominated, id vote for bloomberg against anyone

  8. Joe Mama says:

    I seriously doubt Edwards can win the nomination even if he carries Iowa, which will only prolong his campaign’s demise IMHO. Whatever bump Edwards might get from winning Iowa (or coming in 2nd) likely won’t give the momentum needed to raise his low national poll numbers.

    I don’t see Lou Dobbs entering the race, either.

  9. Joe Mama says:

    So “no chance” was probably unwarranted on my part . . . I should have said “little chance”.

  10. yea says:

    edwards winning iowa is tantamount to a hillary clinton nomination. hillary’s national support is so strong, obama needs to win both iowa and new hampshire to create momentum.

    id say hillary is 95% certain to win the democratic nod. the repub side isn’t as easy to pick. i think mccain and guiliani are the only ones with a chance. huckabee and romney are polling ok in early states, but i don’t think either can get national traction, especially huckabee who has no money. mccain’s really short on money, but is well known nationally, if he wins in new hampshire he’ll have shot. i still think rudy will win the repub nomination out of default but i admit i have less to support that after each day. if romney somehow pulls out iowa i reserve the right to change my mind.

    i have a feeling we may be saying 3 NY politicains running for president. i wonderf what ron paul will do if a hawk like guiliani or mccain gets elected. with all of the funds ron paul has, he’ll be able to compete in the later states and take a significant number of delegates to the convention and cause a ruckus.

  11. Joe Mama says:

    Heh. Can you describe the ruckus, sir?

  12. yea says:

    i dont think it can be described, but itll make the convention worth watching for the first time in a while.

  13. Sandy Underpants says:

    If Bloomberg spends 1 billion dollars of his own money to campaign then he a) has no support and b) has no brain.

    Alan Keyes is more respected than Tancredo and Paul, yet the only debate they let him stand around in was the Mexican one, and I couldn’t understand a damn word anyone said in that one. I’m not one to scream racism, but…

    Another guy getting ripped off is Biden. I just realized this when contemplating Hillary/Biden. 95% Clinton/Obama, 5% Clinton/Edwards.

  14. yea says:

    Bloomberg spent over $100 million of his own money to win a mayoral race in NYC that few gave him a shot at winning. He won as a republican, following a republican mayor whose popularity was extremely low when he left office, in a city that is about 4 to 1 democratic.

    anyone who think bloomberg will get nader like support if he runs for president is deluding themselves. bloomberg will run an aggresive campaign, will outspend all other candidates combined multiple times over, and will get support similar to what perot got in ’94 at worst. id say its about 60/40 infavor of bloomberg ending up running, and if he does end up running, you can be sure he’ll make a ton more noise than Nader could’ve ever hoped to make.