Election 2016

The Most Newsworthy Presidential Candidate Isn't on the Iowa Ballot

Don't discount Michael Bloomberg yet.


The Prime Minister's Office/Flickr

The most newsworthy presidential candidate at the moment is one who wasn't on the ballot in the Iowa caucuses—Michael Bloomberg. Pollster Frank Luntz, who worked for Bloomberg's successful New York City mayoral campaign in 2001, is out with a nationwide poll of 900 likely voters. He describes the poll as showing that if Bloomberg runs, he can actually win.

"Bloomberg would be a serious contender the moment he announced," Luntz wrote in a memo with the poll results, which show Bloomberg within reach of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump without having done any campaigning or having spent a penny on political advertising.

And Bloomberg's poll numbers have room to grow. A recent Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll of New Hampshire voters found "Most Democrats have no opinion about him (44 percent) or have never heard of him (7 percent)."

Analysis purporting to show that there is no ideological room in the race for Bloomberg is flawed. For example, Nate Silver, writing at Fivethirtyeight.com, claims that Bloomberg "now holds positions that, while rightward of Sanders's, aren't appreciably different from Barack Obama's or Hillary Clinton's."

Silver may not be able to appreciate the differences between Bloomberg and Clinton. But here are a few big ones. Clinton, in a pander to unions and the left-wing Democratic primary electorate, opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. So, by the way, do Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Mr. Bloomberg is for the deal, for reasons outlined in this excellent Bloomberg View editorial.

Clinton opposes the Keystone XL oil pipeline—again, in a pander to the left-wing Democratic primary electorate. Bloomberg is for the pipeline, for reasons outlined in this Bloomberg View editorial.

Hillary Clinton has not spent a lot of time on the campaign trail talking about education reform. But the teachers' unions—in particular the American Federation of Teachers and its president, Randi Weingarten—have been part of the backbone of her campaign. So have other public employee unions. Bloomberg, who took a tougher line in negotiations with the public employees as mayor of New York, and who was a leader when it came to charter schools and educational accountability, would almost certainly come down closer to Jeb Bush than to Clinton on education reform.

What's more, the case for Bloomberg rests not merely on his positions, but on his accomplishments. He would be the only candidate in the race with genuine achievements at the executive level in both the private sector and the public sector.

Unlike Clinton or Sen. Cruz, he built a successful, high-technology, global business. Unlike Trump, he has been elected and re-elected to public office. While Clinton's public sector executive accomplishments are open to question—she's probably best known for the Benghazi attack and her private email server—Bloomberg can reasonably claim credit for New York City's phenomenal comeback following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As mayor, Bloomberg worked well with both Republicans such as George W. Bush and Governor Pataki and Democrats such as Sen. Schumer and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

In the past, Bloomberg has been privately skeptical about the public's openness to voting for a divorced Jewish billionaire. The tens of millions of Americans rallying behind Trump, who is a billionaire, and Sen. Sanders, who is Jewish, should be reassuring on those fronts. Both Trump and Sanders are also divorced, though, unlike Bloomberg, they remarried.

I followed Bloomberg closely when he was mayor of New York and I was managing editor of the New York Sun from 2002 to 2008. He sometimes disappointed me, and I certainly did not always agree with him or his administration.

The Bloomberg move that really won me over came after he was done being mayor, in July of 2014, with Israel under attack by rockets from Gaza. The Obama administration's FAA slapped a ban on commercial flights to Israel by American carriers, striking a blow at Israel's economy.

Bloomberg issued a statement: "This evening I will be flying on El Al to Tel Aviv to show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel. Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely. The flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately. I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel."

The FAA—also under pressure from Sen. Cruz—promptly reversed the ban. What a gutsy move by Bloomberg.

People know Bloomberg as an entrepreneur, and perhaps as an ego or an elitist. The part that often is forgotten is that he is an Eagle Scout. On that list of Boy Scout qualities—"trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent"—brave counts for a lot. It explains that commercial flight to Tel Aviv, and it suggests to me that this time around, Bloomberg just might get into the presidential race.

NEXT: Clinton-Shilling Journalists Should Stop Slamming the Bernie Bros

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  1. So tell me, while you were spit-shining his schlong did you notice if his left or right hangs lower?

  2. As long as we’re pandering to the divorced Jewish vote, how about the bravery of Herr Hitler, who only married at the last minute, was in the WW I trenches for four years, went to jail for his beliefs, and, like Martin Luther King Jr, wrote something famous while incarcerated and died at the hands of a criminal for his beliefs?

  3. I was managing editor of the New York Sun from 2002 to 2008
    Wow these Reason contributors are getting better!

  4. Bloomberg’s poll numbers have room to grow

    So does Bloomberg.

  5. So does this Bloomberg the no.10 enemy of Freedom?

    1. Damn it

      So does this *make* Bloomberg the no.10 enemy of Freedom?

      1. He might be #1. First order of business? Constitutional amendment defining portion sizes of sugary sodas!

        1. Well he was Reason’s No. 1 enemy of freedom back in 2013…

          1. He has shown he can be a 1st class tyrant.

        2. As President, I’m sure he’ll tell us Murka’s number-one priority is banning candy bars.

          Except these hipster fuckbeard candy bars that they sell for $10 apiece in NYC. All that “craft chocolate” will still be available. Because it’s only poor-people food that’s unhealthy.

  6. This is a joke. 900 voters… by someone who used to work for his campaign… SURE.

  7. This sounds like a trailer for the Blockbuster Disaster Film of 2016

    “Just when you thought that Hillary was mankind’s greatest fear….
    …Just when The Donald made you realize… YES, It Can Always Get Worse….
    ….from out of the darkest corners of the political swamp….
    …. comes the billionaire that even billionaires think is a douchebag….
    …. from the mind of Wes Craven….
    …. and the maker of “Alien vs. Predator”….
    ….. the candidate that will make America shit its own brains out…”

    1. Okay, this seriously needs to be made into an actual movie trailer. Who in in commentariate has that deep “movie previews guy” voice?

  8. Is this article for real? Bloomberg has his head so far up his own ass, he doesn’t even know what polluted Manhattan air is supposed to smell like.

    1. In the past, Bloomberg has been privately skeptical about the public’s openness to voting for a divorced Jewish billionaire. The tens of millions of Americans rallying behind Trump, who is a billionaire, and Sen. Sanders, who is Jewish, should be reassuring on those fronts.

      No, no one can write something that stupid seriously. It’s satire, and the only flaw is that it’s so obvious.

      1. The man’s name is so toxic outside NYC that 3 Colorado state reps got recalled and ad campaigns by local gun groups have been successful just by attaching the turd’s name to bills he financially backs. Run Mike, Run!

      2. He did write an article blaming Trump for poor stock market performance and how immigration restrictionism caused the Great Depression…

        1. how immigration restrictionism caused the Great Depression…

          Ah yes, the great labor shortages of the 1930s! Who can forget the great Okie employer migration, during which they loaded their businesses into cars and trucks and headed for California, in a desperate search for employees?

  9. His bodyguards will protect us with their guns so we won’t have to with ours.

  10. Damn, if you’re going to go to all the trouble of getting a candidate out of the Head Museum, why couldn’t you have grabbed Lucy Liu?

    1. Sure her head is pretty hot…..but if your intent was grabbing a discredited politician Nixons head is tanned, rested, and ready!

  11. A recent Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll of New Hampshire voters Americans found “Most Democrats Americans have no opinion about him Franklin Pierce (44 percent) or have never heard of him (7 percent) nor can they figure out why a school would be named after him (98 percent).”


  12. Bloomberg, Trump, Hillary, Sanders, etc. Won’t someone please rip a page out of the phone book and throw a dart at it so that we’ll have a half-way decent president next year?

    1. Nice paraphrase of Buckley preferring to be governed by the first 500 people in the Boston phone book over the Harvard faculty, Never realized just how true it would become.

      1. An amusing memory of mine, from the ’70s: someone claiming that quote proved Buckley was a racist and/or anti-Semitic! I don’t remember this bozo’s exact words, but it was basically that the first names in the phone book were more likely to be for people of English/Western European extraction, and thus it discriminated against people whose names were more likely to begin with “Z” or whatever. (Which may not even be true: there are a lot of Anglo-Saxons with names like “Williams.”)

        So insanity about race long predates the current PC wave….

  13. According to Howard Stern he was great for business! All the rest, who cares, amirite? I mean, after all, salt’n sodas are bad for ya.

    1. I thought Howard Stern was a libertarian? He pissed off some socons so he must be one, right?

      1. Not from the bits I’ve heard over the years. He’s a libertarian to the extent celebrities are.

        1. I’ve come to the conclusion that many self-professed libertarians are just people who like to smoke pot and not pay taxes.

          1. Fairweather libertarians.

  14. Clinton, in a pander to unions and the left-wing Democratic primary electorate, opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

    She stated she was for it some 80+ times before she predatorily stated she was against it so she could get off the Sanders supporters’ perma-ignore list. You can’t trust a word of her pandering. She’ll rubber-stamp whatever she’s paid off to rubber-stamp. If the unions happen to make the biggest payment to her reelection campaign or the Clinton Foundation, she’ll vote against it. If Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook make the biggest payments, she’ll vote for TPP, then claim in the next election cycle that she’s had a “change of heart” or that she was “duped” so she can once again pander to the mouth-breathing progs.

  15. A positive article from Reason Magazine on Michael Bloomberg………..fuck.

    1. It’s hilarious. I only need to see if staff members writes a positive article on him…

    2. New York City kinda defines cosmopolitan

    3. Ha, seriously. This is why I haven’t donated recently.

  16. WTF is this post doing in my Reason?

  17. Still better than that “Libertarians should give Bernie another look, they have so much in common” article from last fall.

  18. Well, Bloomberg would be an enormous improvement over Clinton or Sanders in the Democratic camp. I might even book a return flight back from Australia if he gains traction.

  19. Hey so there’s this guy Rand Paul, maybe Reason has heard of him?

    He might be a better choice than Mr. Soda Ban.

  20. Well done, Ira.

    Now if we can only get someone on Bloomberg’s staff to read this and convince him to join the race. A few more independents diluting the pool of votes increases the minute chance of someone like Gary Johnson standing a chance. That, or it just encourages more crazies to join, essentially guaranteeing a statist nutjob gets elected.

  21. So, when he’s POTUS and he gets up behind the podium to make his announcement that he’s banned big sugary drinks, what will they have him stand on? You know, so that his head is actually above the podium. Or do they make a special podium for midgets?

  22. This article, which seems to faun over Mayor Soda Jerk, leaves me wondering if Reason has been high-jacked by a progressive infiltrator. If so, please annihilate them.

    1. wondering if Reason has been high-jacked by a progressive infiltrator

      New here?

  23. Wow, I joked about how Bloomberg is what many voters probably think of when they think of someone who’s “economically conservative and socially liberal.”

    Who knew Reason would make the association, too?

    I mean, he only wants to get rid of *one* of the articles in the Bill of Rights…there would still be nine amendments left!

  24. I’m only turning up to vote if there’s a Ron Mexico/Carlos Danger ticket in play.

  25. I predict if Bloomberg runs Congress will pick the next president and it’ll be a run-of-the-mill turd wranglin republican.

    I don’t know if I really believe this, but there is no penalty for making a stupid prediction on the internet, so I’ll stick with it for now.

  26. So Team Red would run an Authoritarian Billionaire Democrat that claims to be a Republican and Team Blue would run an Authoritarian Billionaire Republican that claims to be a Democrat?

    And people call me extreme when I claim the two parties are essentially the same.

    1. That might cause the lowest turnout ever.

  27. Can this election become even more of a circus? Some sort of sad, decadent, Weimar-like circus, with flabby, scruffy lions, and acrobats who are either on the verge of retirement or very new, hoping to become stars before the whole enterprise goes bust.

    At least Trump is bringing a certain Bizarro-World version of punk rock energy to the whole affair….

    1. Cruz, Trump, Bush, Rubio, Clinton, Sanders and maybe Bloomberg. These are the choices?

      Slim pickings and quite depressing given there are 320 million fricken Americans.

  28. …brave counts for a lot.

    Considering that we are talking about a power mad statist, no. No it doesn’t.

  29. Stoll’s “the cosmotarian case for Michael Bloomberg” disappeared from H&R

  30. Was this article removed from the front page or something?

  31. Was this advertorial published at Reason as a favor to a friend? and “that flight frfom Tel Aviv”, oooo, goosebumps.

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