Mike Bloomberg -- Can an Invisible Man be President?

| Wed Jun. 20, 2007 1:42 PM EDT

With New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg announcing he's dropping his GOP affiliation in favor of independent status, people across the web are speculating about his presidential ambitions.

I'm not buying in. Even though Bloomberg's constituents think he would make a better president than his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, and even though Mayor Mike has billions of his own cash to spend on an independent run, and even though the mainstream media falls in love with independents, and even though we've done a bit of speculating ourselves -- I can't shake the sense that Bloomberg, as a savvy businessman and manipulator of public attention, simply sees an opportunity to keep his name in the spotlight as term limits boot him out of office and is taking advantage. Maybe to further his business interests, maybe to secure the ambassadorship to France, maybe so he can be President Somebody's VP -- who knows? But not to run for president.

Bloomberg cannot possibly be so egomaniacal as to overlook the (incredibly salient) fact that the excited folks at New York- and DC-based news outlets have indeed overlooked -- outside of New York and elite media and government circles, no one really knows who Mike Bloomberg is. This is anecdotally true, no doubt, but confirmed by the only poll that appears to have tested the subject -- according to Forbes, only 23 percent of those interviewed are able to recognize Mike Bloomberg. That's compared to 70 percent or higher for some of the presidential frontrunners. Yes, Bloomberg's been astonishingly effective. Yes, he's made progress on issues the federal government won't take up. Yes, he's avoided partisan wrangling and done so to his constituents' advantage. But the vast majority of the country doesn't know who he is. Aren't we all getting a little carried away?

Late Update: Hmm. This Pew poll directly contradicts the Forbes poll. Maybe I'm way off base here...