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Bloomberg 2016: Moonshot or Shooting the Moon?

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 19/02/2016 Richard Robbins

In New York Magazine without explaining his math, Jonathan Chait argues "Why Bloomberg Could Run for President and Win."
"It is clearly possible for an independent to win a three-way race against two established party candidates in a state. And if it is possible to do it in a state, it is also possible to do so in enough states to add up to 270 electoral votes."
It's quite apparent that Mike Bloomberg would LOVE to be president and would gladly spend $1B+ of his own money to fund a run. It's also clear that in this cycle, anything could happen. But digging into the numbers, a run by Bloomberg would be much less a moonshot (an low-risk attempt at an incredibly ambitious goal), and more shooting the moon (going for broke, with slim chance of success and great cost of failure, especially in policy areas about which Bloomberg cares deeply).
In a world where Trump could actually be our next president (see Felix Salmon's "President Trump: Here's how it happens"), Bloomberg's entry into the mix would almost definitely pave the path to the White House for Trump or another Republican who would greatly damage Bloomberg's interests in gun control and the environment for a generation or more.
Two important factors are at play here. First, the national vote is irrelevant. What matters is the state-by-state vote to win actual Electoral Votes (EVs). Second, to win outright, a candidate must win 270 EVs. If no candidate wins the 270 majority, the House gets to pick the next president based on a vote where each state delegation gets one vote. (Currently 33 states have Republican majorities in the House.)
I would love to see Bloomberg's state by state polling. But a rough guess says that the GOP candidate will win an absolute minimum of 159 EVs, especially if Bloomberg is in the race. (These are: AK, AL, AR, GA, ID, KS, KY, LA, MI, MO, ND, NE, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY.) Most likely, the Republican will win another 47 EVs (AZ, IN, MO, NC).
This leaves just 332 EVs to be split between the Democrat and Bloomberg. Assuming that the Democrat would win CA, DC, and HI, this leaves exactly 270 possible EVs for Bloomberg. This means Bloomberg would need to win a complete sweep of CO, CT, DE, FL, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, VA, VT, WA, and WI to win. And should Bloomberg win more than 62 EVs from these states, perhaps by winning just FL, NY and PA (78 total), there would only be 254 EVs left for the Democrat, meaning that the GOP House would pick the next president.
Of course anything can happen. There's always the possibility that Trump could win the GOP nomination and finally falter before November and that Bernie could pull an upset over Hillary yet not enough general election voters Feel the Bern. In theory, this could clear a path for Bloomberg to sweep the required 24 states to get 270 EVs (or, more unlikely, to win CA, DC and HI and/or AZ, IN, MO and NC).
But much more likely if Bloomberg enters the race is that even if he didn't throw any "battleground" states to the GOP candidate, he would prevent the Democrat from getting to 270 EVs, hand the election to the House GOP, and likely hand the Supreme Court to anti-gun control, climate change deniers for years to come.
Note: In writing this article I came upon Cliston Brown's "Michael Bloomberg Will Never Be the Next U.S. President," which intelligently raises many of these same points. I recommend giving it a read. Also John Avlon's "When Bloomberg Really Needs To Decide If He Is Going to Run" debunks the common meme that Bloomberg would need to declare by early-March by saying that as an independent he'd have until May to start getting on state ballots.

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