A new telephone survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports highlights the difficulty of estimating the potential impact of an independent Presidential campaign by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
While any third party campaign is a long-shot at best, Bloomberg has reportedly said he will spend up to a billion dollars of his own money on a campaign. Given such resources, he could be competitive with the major party candidates in getting his message out.
When voters are told in advance that Bloomberg might spend up to a billion dollars on a campaign, and that he might support proposals to get voters back in the loop of America’s political system, 51% of New Jersey voters say they would consider voting for him. Just 23% would not. Not surprisingly, given his regional name recognition, that’s a bit more support than found in national polling.
In fact, in a three-way race with Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D) and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson (R), Bloomberg is tied for the lead. It’s Obama 32% Bloomberg 32% and Thompson 20%.
Bloomberg does almost as well when the other candidates are former North Carolina Senator John Edwards (D) and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R). With that match up, it’s Edwards 34% Bloomberg 32% and just 18% for Romney.
Bloomberg does not fare as well when the major party candidates are also from New York. An all New York general election match-up shows New York Senator Hillary Clinton (D) with 38%, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani 29% and Bloomberg 21%.
If Bloomberg found himself in second place as Election 2008 progresses, the dynamics get even more interesting. If it became clear that the Republican candidate couldn’t win, 48% of New Jersey voters say they’d pull the lever for Bloomberg over New York Senator Hillary Clinton (D). Just 36% would vote for Clinton.
If the Democratic candidate couldn’t win, 33% of voters would prefer former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani while 48% would prefer Bloomberg.
These results are dramatically stronger for the Mayor than an earlier New Jersey survey in which respondents were not told in advance about Bloomberg’s reported spending commitment or any campaign themes.
In this survey, before the ballot questions were asked, respondents were asked a series of questions to determine if they would be more or less likely to vote for Bloomberg. Forty-six percent (46%) say they’d be more likely to vote for Bloomberg he were to support a proposal requiring all tax increases to be approved by voters.
Forty-five percent (45%) say they’d be more likely to vote for Bloomberg if he were to build a true third party rather than just make an ego-driven run for the White House.
In this survey, 33% of New Jersey voters believe it is possible for him to win the White House if he spends that much money. Thirty-nine percent (39%) say it is not possible while 28% are not sure. Those figures are identical to the earlier New Jersey survey.
Bloomberg is contemplating running at a time when the brand names of the two major parties is not doing well —the number of people considering themselves Republicans has dropped to the lowest level of the Bush era and the number of Democrats has just declined to the lowest level in seventeen months.