Can an Independent win the US Presidency?

by Stephen Tall on June 21, 2007

In years to come, many books and theses will come to be written about the2008 US Presidential election, the most open in 80 years, since neither the serving President nor Vice-President is contesting the position.

For those of us living through it, and especially for the political geeks among us who can enjoy watching an election without being directly involved, it’s a fascinating spectacle.

Six months ago, I made the (what then seemed risky) prediction that then Republican favourite Senator John McCain would fail to secure his party’s nomination. Unless he can perform a pretty remarkable turnaround, his last chance to become President is fast slipping through his fingers.

It just goes to show how those who lead the field at an early stage need to watch their step, as the photo (right) attests.

I have a small wager on Mitt Romney, former Republican governor in liberal Massachusetts. Though he currently trails in national polls, behind both Sen. McCain and Rudy Giuliani, he is ahead in the three states which vote first in the primaries, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, and has been consistently raising more money than either.

But the man who might upset all calculations is New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who has just renounced his Republican affiliation, and seems set for a crack at the White House as an independent.

This will place my New York friends, mainly Democrat-sympathising, in a quandary, as Mayor Bloomberg is highly rated by them as one of the greatest mayors the city has know – a social liberal with great business acumen who runs the city on a pragmatically consensual basis. That he won re-election as a Republican in New York with a 20% majority attests to his bipartisan appeal.

Might 2008 be the election when both Republicans and Democrats find themselves having to sit it out for (at least) four years?