...Mike Bloomberg wanting to run for president and going so far as to consult well connected political consultants to guage a run...what are they telling him that keeps him from running? IF he really wanted to run, wouldn't this cycle have been best? A slow recovery hurting the incumbent and a weak challenger should have been a wide-open window, right?They're probably telling him the Iron Law of American Politics that NYC Mayor is a dead-end job. Beyond that, it's correct that this was a (fairly) good cycle for a third party candidate to run "successfully", but that means getting to 10% or maybe 20%, not winning. So those most likely to try under those circumstances are (1) people with real issue commitments who want to get some policies on the national agenda; (2) people with egos that will be satisfied by getting on TV a lot, maybe even the debates, and then getting crushed in November; (3) people stupid enough or egotistical enough to believe they'll win despite the strong evidence that they won't. Presumably, Bloomberg is not in any of those categories. Or, he just doesn't want the job.
Do you think the current situation in California (i.e., an uncompetitive state Republican party and a Democratic party that's not particularly unified or effective) could set the stage for a meaningful third party presence (e.g., due to an intra-Dem schism)? If not, what structural factors are preventing it? And what's preventing the California Republicans from moderating themselves? Is California enacting the Emerging Democratic Majority scenario?The traditional problem for third parties is "Duverger's Law", which is more of an empirical observation and logical conclusion than a "Law," but says that first-past-the-post elections will produce a two-party system because third party votes will switch to the big party that has the best chance of winning (since there's no reward for anything except winning. I don't see any reason to expect that to fail in the long run, but I wouldn't be shocked to see a serious third-party runs for major offices, and wouldn't be shocked if one or more succeeds. I don't really agree that the Democrats are weak, though; but what you want for all of this is Seth Masket's book, which is excellent.
If the demographics of the US eventually look like California now, I'd expect Republicans to adapt. But there are a lot of ways that could happen.