Is 2016 the year for an independent president?

By Adrian Arizmendi

Michael Bloomberg — former New York City mayor, and one of the eight richest Americans — is exploring a bid for the presidency in 2016, the New York Times reported.

Why should you care? Because Bloomberg could possibly deliver Donald Trump the White House. Here’s why:

Liberal NYT columnist Paul Krugman put it bluntly this weekend. He said the first step to getting Trump elected is for Democrats to give Bernie Sanders the nomination. The next step is a Bloomberg run.

That’s because establishment liberals don’t think Sanders will be able to govern, and might find Bloomberg a good alternative, splitting the Democratic vote.

The fear that Sanders will struggle to govern is not unfounded. Simply speaking, there probably won’t be enough Democrats in the House for Sanders to make the changes he wants. Republicans are currently projected to keep control of the House, in large part because of the way district lines are drawn (gerrymandering). More on that here:

With these district lines in place, Republicans are favored for about 230 House seats — and only 218 are needed for a majority. With that on the minds of establishment liberals, a Bloomberg presidency might sound more tempting in terms of getting things done in Washington.

What do some liberals like about Bloomberg? Well, he’s moderate on a few issues. He’s not afraid to be tough on guns, fight climate change or impose rules on things like cigarettes and soda. But remember, this is also the same mayor that supported “stop and frisk” — a system of policing that disproportionately affected people of color.

So why does Bloomberg think he can win?

The number of Americans that identify as independents has swelled to 44 percent, according to Gallup. The last time an über-rich person ran for president, independents made up 37 percent of the electorate. Could a few extra percentage points make a difference?

We’ll have to see. But with such a non-establishment lineup of favorite candidates, maybe 2016 could finally be the year the two-party system cracks, and an independent candidate can win the White House.

Follow Adrian Arizmendi on Twitter.

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