A new survey released by GOP pollster Frank Luntz on Thursday finds that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is contemplating a White House bid, would have a shot at winning the presidency as a third-party candidate.
“If Michael Bloomberg decides to run for president as an independent candidate, he will begin the campaign just a handful of points behind the front-runners from BOTH political parties,” Luntz said in a statement accompanying the poll.
Although Bloomberg has yet to announce whether he is running, he already receives nearly a third of the vote in a three-way race, regardless of who the Democratic and Republican nominees are.
All right, I know that we were all supposed to swear off polls after the nightmare that was 2012, when only Nate Silver ended up getting anything right. However, now that 2016 is in full “Helter-Skelter” mode and the Conventional Political Wisdom train left the station last summer and ran off the tracks, we have to look at something to try and figure out where this nightmare cycle may end.
I can see Bloomberg’s appeal to Democrats, but I can’t imagine what his appeal to any Republican would be at this point beyond a protest vote.
Luntz’s conclusion seems to be based solely on Bloomberg’s strong starting position in the polling. He’s not ahead in any of the scenarios, but he’s close.
Luntz also finds that the former New York City mayor hurts the GOP more if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is the nominee:
The poll also finds that when either Trump or Cruz is the GOP nominee, Bloomberg draws more support from Republicans than from Democrats, winning 26 and 23 percent of GOP voters, respectively.
When Rubio is the GOP nominee, only 18 percent of Republicans defect to support the former mayor.
Bloomberg consistently draws 18 or 19 percent of the Democratic vote from Clinton.
Whatever the scenarios may be, Bloomberg looks like the rare kind of third-party candidate who could be a major headache for both the Republicans and Democrats.