Michael Bloomberg has expressed enough interest in running for president over the years that his latest deliberation might seem like a bit of a joke. Don't laugh just yet, writes Jonathan Chait at New York. There's no question that Bloomberg—socially liberal and fiscally conservative—"fills a space on the political spectrum that is overserved," Chait says. But in a race against Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, Bloomberg's lane would be wide open. And though an independent candidate has never become president in modern times, independents have won in three-way races at the state level. Since voters seem to be leaning toward party outsiders, it makes sense that they might favor a candidate running outside of the established system. Plus, plenty of voters identify themselves as independent anyway.
Of course, more identify as Democrat or Republican. But most do so "out of intense loathing and fear of the opposing party," writes Chait. That means that if Bloomberg attracted enough support from independents, "Democrats who can't abide socialism, and Republicans who can't abide Trump," he might also "see a sudden influx of Democrats who are terrified of Trump, Republicans who are terrified of Sanders, or both." For now, it seems hard to imagine Bloomberg in the Oval Office. "But if Trump and Sanders get the nomination, then we have already entered a world in which an unimaginable outcome—the election of either a self-professed critic of the 'free enterprise system,' or a reality-television buffoon as president—has become inevitable," Chait writes. "In a world like that, the election of ... Bloomberg might quickly seem not just thinkable but downright boring." Chait's full piece is here.