The most intriguing leadership news over the weekend is that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is preparing for a possible presidential run. Whether he decides to run, and whether he succeeds if he does run, will depend largely on how accurately he’s reading the electorate. The big question he’s trying to answer is relevant for all the candidates.
The New York Times, which broke the story, reports that Bloomberg would be most likely to run if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz became the Republican nominee and Bernie Sanders became the Democratic nominee. In that case he’d see a wide opening between them. The Times quotes an unnamed Bloomberg adviser saying that Bloomberg believes voters want “a nonideological, bipartisan, results-oriented vision.” The big question: Do they really?
So far, with Iowans caucusing one week from today, that seems to be the opposite of what they want. Cruz proposes abolishing the IRS. Trump would ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. Sanders wants to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure over the next five years while making college free for everyone. In case you have any doubt, none of those things will happen. Yet Trump and Cruz together have 57% support among Iowa Republicans, while Sanders has 40% support among Iowa Democrats (trailing Hillary Clinton’s 52%) and has 52% support in New Hampshire. The most ideological, partisan, unrealistic candidates are doing great.
Bloomberg could still be right, of course. Primary voters tend to be the most extreme members of their parties. Once we get to the general election, maybe there’s a broad majority in the middle that wants just what Bloomberg would offer them: “a technocratic problem-solver and self-made businessman who understands the economy and who built a bipartisan administration in New York,” as an aide described his positioning to the Times. That description would be largely fair. But while Bloomberg would argue that he thus offers something for everyone, in today’s political climate it could just mean that he offers something for everyone to hate. He strongly favors abortion rights and gun control. He also stoutly defends Wall Street and the financial services industry. He favors charter schools and was an enemy of the teachers’ union and several other labor unions. He endorses strong policies to fight climate change. As mayor he instituted strict policing policies, some of which have been reversed by his successor, Democrat Bill de Blasio. Is that a package that attracts lots of votes, or almost no votes?
If Republicans nominate Trump or Cruz and Democrats nominate Sanders, and Bloomberg ends up running, his implicit campaign slogan – not that he’d say it out loud – would be oddly parallel to the slogan used successfully by Jimmy Morales, the TV comedian who was elected president of Guatemala last October. Morales’s line was “I’m not corrupt, and I’m not a thief.” Bloomberg’s version would be “I’m not loony.” And he’s definitely not. The big question is whether that’s what the voters want.
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What We’re Reading Today
Jack Dorsey revamps Twitter’s top management
As Dorsey seeks ways to reignite growth, he’s reshaping the executive team after several departures, at least one of which was reportedly forced. Senior VP of engineering Alex Roetter, senior VP of product Kevin Weil, VP of global media Katie Jacobs Stanton, VP of human resources Brian Schipper, and Vine general manager Jason Toff are all leaving. The eight-member board will also add two new directors. NYT
Inspectors find deficiencies at Theranos lab
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services uncovered the issues at Elizabeth Holmes‘s company. While the findings have yet to be released, they’re serious enough to put Theranos at risk of suspension from the Medicare program. It’s another regulatory hit to Holmes as the company continues to use only one of its vaunted blood tests while the FDA reviews its technology. WSJ
Johnson Controls in advanced merger talks with Tyco
A merger could be a $15-billon to $20-billion deal. Alex Molinaroli‘s Johnson Controls, which makes auto equipment, has struggled to prove to investors it can grow. Shares in George Oliver‘s Tyco International, a security company, have fallen over 25% in the past year. Molinaroli would reportedly head the combined company. Fortune
East Coast travel remains a struggle
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Building a Better Leader
Managing feelings is an inevitable part of a leader’s job
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One key to avoiding burnout when launching a startup…
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Running a business during a crisis
Business owners in Flint, Mich., talk about managing the company while the government tries to fix the city’s drinking water. Inc.
Candidates react to potential Bloomberg run
Michael Bloomberg is reportedly considering a run as an independent if Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination and Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is the Republican nominee. Sanders said, “that is not what, to my view, American democracy is supposed to be about, a contest between billionaires.” Trump welcomed the potential competition; analysts say Bloomberg would siphon votes mostly from Democrats. Hillary Clinton said she would win the nomination, negating Bloomberg’s precondition for running. Fortune
Volkswagen tries to increase productivity…
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Europe’s data watchdog
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Up or Out
In a note to employees, Valeant Pharmaceuticals CEO J. Michael Pearson said he’s on “the road to recovery.” Pearson fell ill to pneumonia in December and has remained in a hospital since. A timetable for his return is still uncertain. MarketWatch
Fortune Reads and Videos
Women startup founders hit hard by lack of funding
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Terrorism, health care, and immigration…
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Chris Rock isn’t going to boycott the Oscars
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Flint gets help from unlikely source
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Sheila Johnson, co-founder of BET and part owner of three sports franchises, turns 67 today. Biography
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|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|