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CAMPAIGN '08 / THE RACE DEBATE

Recession seen as a boost for Bloomberg

January 15, 2008|From Newsday

NEW YORK — The presidential fortunes of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg may hinge on the country's slipping into a recession that would make voters more receptive to a self-made billionaire selling himself as a pragmatic, nonpartisan fiscal manager, economists and political analysts say.

The deteriorating economy, which has begun to overshadow the war in Iraq and immigration as a key issue with voters, plays to what is expected to be the cornerstone of a potential Bloomberg campaign -- a record of financial prudence and efficient, businesslike stewardship of the nation's largest city.

"There's no question that a recession strengthens his pitch," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "But I think the overall question that he'll be asking, the first question, is 'Can I win?' "

"People tend to vote their pocketbooks," said David Wyss, chief economist with Standard & Poor's. "This improves his chances, [but] do people want change enough to vote for someone who's not in one of the major parties?"

Douglas E. Schoen, a pollster for Bloomberg's two mayoral campaigns, says that an independent candidate can make the case to voters that partisan gridlock has led to the nation's economic woes.

"As the economy gets worse, there is an even greater sense among the electorate that we're paying a price for partisan bickering," said Schoen, who wrote a book about running a successful third-party presidential race.

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