Last week, while Hurricane Sandy made its way up the east coast, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Obama. For Mayor Bloomberg, this endorsement is just an extension of his influence in politics and business.
Although President Obama was able to secure Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement, it doesn’t necessarily translate to have a real impact on the electorate. According to a December ABC News/Washington Post poll, 44% of American voters have no opinion of Mayor Bloomberg. It’s unclear what the particular reach that this endorsement has on the presidential campaign. Meanwhile, a poll taken by the Washington Times shows that a whopping 84% of those polled feel that the endorsement would not have any sway on the presidential campaign.
Both nominees have met with the mayor in hopes of securing his endorsement. The mayor’s nonpartisan and no-nonsense style of governance coupled with his knowledge of Wall Street and business experience adds more political weight.
Although Bloomberg cites climate change as the primary factor in his decision to endorse President Obama, he could not, in good conscience vote for Romney and where he stands on social issues (which has wavered from 2003):
“In the past he has taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care—but he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the very health care model he signed into law in Massachusetts.”
During the presidential debate, we saw a more moderate side of Mitt Romney, one can contrasted against his earlier statements. He’s had to move more to the center in order to broaden his appeal. But during the primaries, in order to gain the Republican nomination, he moved more to the right.
Similarly, despite the mayor’s endorsement of Obama, the relationship between the president and the mayor is by no means a love-fest. Given Bloomberg’s Wall Street experience and business leadership, his main critique of the current administration is that the populist rhetoric has antagonized the business community. Also, Bloomberg cites Obama's failure to united Congress as a whole to get past the gridlock in Washington:
“Well, his biggest failure is, he has been unable to pull Congress together—and that’s not to say anybody else could’ve done it either. It may be that it’s just too tough…”
Political equity may be another reason that Bloomberg has given his endorsement to Obama. As Bloomberg winds down in his third and last term as mayor, he’s able to take more risks and was never one to shun away from doing the right thing. Similarly, last week we saw New Jersey governor Chris Christie and his effusive praise (while receiving flack from conservatives) for President Obama.
As a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned Independent, Bloomberg supports social issues such as abortion rights, gun control and gay marriage and doesn’t feel the need to follow party lines to do so. His Super PAC, Independence USA, supports candidates on both sides of the aisle that support his particular issues.
Cities have been typically hotbeds of policy innovation and under Mayor Bloomberg, this has continued to be the case. With initiatives to be more “green” and encouraging alternative forms of transportation, alleviating the housing situation by encouraging innovation for mini-sized apartments, it’s admirable that at 70 years of age, he is still a force to be reckoned with. But gun control remains a cause that the mayor still champions.
Mayor Bloomberg sees his role as a counterweight to the NRA. Given the multiple high-profile shootings that had taken place over the summer, along with both candidates silence on this issue, the NRA remains a powerful lobby.
Now that his term is winding down, Mayor Bloomberg can dedicate more time and money to social causes. While previous mayors have used their position as a stepping stone to seek higher office after their term has been completed for Mayor Bloomberg, it proves that there’s another path to solving the nation’s problems.