Yes, alas, this really appears to be becoming a thing:
Speaking to the Financial Times, the founder of the eponymous financial information group criticised the quality of the debate in the presidential race. He said that he was “looking at all the options” when asked whether he was considering putting his name forward.
“I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview, before adding that the U.S. public deserved “a lot better”…
Mr. Bloomberg told the FT that he would need to start putting his name on ballots across the U.S. at the beginning of March. “I’m listening to what candidates are saying and what the primary voters appear to be doing,” he said.
Let's take these one at a time.
The quality of the debate this cycle has been just fine, outside of pretty much everything that has come out of Donald Trump's piehole. The (actually) Republican field has done a bang-up job of articulating Tea Party and center-right conservatism, Bernie Sanders has argued for the liberal left commie bastard Apocalypse with passion and wheezing, and Hillary Clinton has screeched for herself at every opportunity. It's Trump that has "fundamentally transformed" American politics into a carival barker reality TV sideshow. So Bloomie's problem has to be with Trumpese, yes?
Not as such. Banality is defined as "lacking originality, freshness, or novelty". That certainly doesn't describe Trump, and would presumably describe the rest of the field in both parties. But that isn't really the fault of the other candidates; it's a product of politics itself. There are always many issues discussed in election campaigns, both foreign and domestic, but they do all reside in a certain, limited number of general categories. There will always be debate and argument about federal spending, taxation, cultural issues, terrorism, foreign policy, education, health care, etc. The only ways to change that are to either get the federal government out of housing and urban development and education and health care, etc., etc., etc. and back within the boundaries of the United States Constitution, or despotically expand it to even more areas where it doesn't belong. Which course do you think Bloomie is more likely to pursue? Too bad we can't enjoy a Big Gulp while we contemplate it, huh?
The punchline is that the New York liberal Bloomberg would bring anything original, fresh, or novel to the race that the other New York liberal hasn't, other than an adult sense of decorum and better table manners.
But the pollsters, at least, are still taking a Bloomberg indy run seriously. And according to focus group guru Frank Luntz, we'd better hope and pray that Marco Rubio is our nominee:
In a race against [Mrs.] Clinton and Republican [Senator] Ted Cruz, Bloomberg receives 28% of the vote, compared to [Mrs.] Clinton’s 37% and Cruz’s 35%.
And in a scenario in which Republican [Senator] Marco Rubio wins his party’s nomination, Bloomberg receives 28% of the vote, compared to Rubio’s 38% and [Mrs.] Clinton’s 35%…
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% of Republicans defect to support the former mayor. [emphasis added]
This is the point where I would ordinarily caveat that way more Republicans and Democrats would close ranks than that and Bloomberg almost certainly wouldn't get out of single-digits, and given that he's a New York liberal, that would hurt Hillary or Weekend Bernie. But this crazy-ass cycle, who knows? Ross Perot syphoned off nineteen percent of the popular vote in 1992, after all; maybe Bloomberg doesn't knock on the door of thirty percent, but a portion in the teens would probably be plausible. And the magnitude of Bloomers' popular vote haul wouldn't matter to which major party candidate would be impacted more.
It's an established fact that Marco Rubio is more general-electable than Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, as Cruz is more general-electable in turn than Trump as well. Whether the general election would be sufficiently close in the instances of either a Rubio or Cruz nomination to where Bloomberg's presence would skew the election to Sanders or Mrs. Clinton is anybody's guess at this point. But it's looking more and more likely that we're going to find out.
My conclusion? Trump was originally the designated stalking horse for Mrs. Clinton, his mission to join the GOP race and stay in it long enough to contrive a reason to walk out and go third party in order to split the Republican vote and put her back in the White House; but Trump has done far better in the GOP primaries than anybody ever dreamed he would, and now he's actually going for the nomination, so the Empress needs another New York liberal stalking horse. And Michael Bloomberg is it.
The details don't matter to Herself, though; only the destination. Whatever it takes.
In the words of Loki at the end of The Avengers, "If it's all the same to you, I'll have that Big Gulp now".