Billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could "quite literally turn this election upside down," noted pollster Frank Luntz said Thursday.
In a three-way race with Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Bloomberg, Trump would finish first with 37 percent, followed by Clinton at 33 percent and Bloomberg at 29 percent.
"The numbers are clear and compelling: there is definitely room for a second billionaire in this election," Luntz, who worked for Bloomberg's mayoral campaign in 2001 as well as for H. Ross Perot's independent presidential campaign in 1992, said in a polling memo outlining the potential effects of a minor-party presidential bid.
The founder of Bloomberg News is considering a minor-party bid if the two parties continue to reject centrism, the New York Times reported last week. Bloomberg would consider a run if the Democrats nominated Brooklyn-born Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Republicans nominated either fellow New York businessman Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
The Luntz poll surveyed 900 likely voters nationwide and proposed three hypothetical general election match-ups. Bloomberg's best ranking came in the match-up against Clinton and Trump.
In the second scenario with Hillary Clinton, Sen. Cruz and Bloomberg, Clinton won with 37 percent, Cruz finished second with 35 percent and Bloomberg garnered 28 percent.
The final match-up pitted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio against Clinton and Bloomberg. In that race, Rubio polled 38 percent, Clinton 35, and Bloomberg 28.
Among the major party candidates, a possible Bloomberg run gets mixed reviews.
In an interview with host Chuck Todd on Meet the Press last Sunday, Trump said "I would love to have Michael Bloomberg run, I would love that competition."
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton was more circumspect when Todd posed the same question to her.
"The way I read what he said is that if I didn't get the nomination he might consider it," Clinton told Todd. "Well, I'm going to relieve him of that and get the nomination so he doesn't have to."
Sanders welcomed the class struggle aspects of the potential Bloomberg campaign.
"If Donald Trump wins and Mr. Bloomberg gets in, you’re going to have two multibillionaires running for president of the United States against me," Sanders told Todd. "I think the American people do not want to see our nation move toward an oligarchy, where billionaires control the political process. I think we’ll win that election.”
Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, told AMI Newswire the outcome of a possible Bloomberg candidacy is completely unknown. But there is one candidate who would definitely suffer.
"If Bloomberg runs," Winger said, "that will end a Jim Webb candidacy."
Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb dropped out of the running for the Democratic presidential nomination in November and has been mulling an independent bid since then.
Webb's campaign had no immediate response to an inquiry from AMI Newswire.
As for Bloomberg, he has said nothing publicly about a bid. However, he did get some encouragement Wednesday from News Corporation founder and CEO Rupert Murdoch.
On Twitter, Murdoch said, "This is Bloomberg's last chance. You never know until your hat is in the ring! Events change everything, especially during elections."