A third-party presidential run by Michael Bloomberg would be a long shot for the former New York City mayor but could help real estate mogul Donald Trump if he lands the Republican nomination, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
In a matchup between Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, adding Bloomberg's name to the ballot would trim Clinton's lead over Trump to 6 percentage points from 10, according to the poll conducted from Jan. 23 to Jan. 27.
In a Trump versus Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders matchup, adding Bloomberg would erode Sanders' lead over Trump to seven points from 12, the poll results showed.
In all matchups, Bloomberg himself would land just 10 percent or less of the vote in November.
The 73-year-old financial information industry billionaire, who earned a reputation as a social liberal with strong Wall Street ties during his time as New York City mayor, has considered a White House run for years.
According to recent media reports, he would be especially interested in running if Trump and Sanders win their party nominations, and would spend at least $1 billion of his own money to drive his campaign.
While Bloomberg's chances in an election currently look grim, a possible silver lining for him is that he has yet to make a first impression on most Americans.
When asked, only 41 percent of those surveyed said they were “somewhat” or “very” familiar with the three-term former mayor. That compares with 66 percent for Sanders and 59 percent for Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Clinton and Trump, who have been in the public spotlight for decades, enjoy almost 100 percent name recognition.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll included responses from 1,673 people. It has a credibility interval, a measure of the poll’s accuracy, of about 3 percentage points.
Other key findings:
•If Republicans nominate Trump and Democrats nominate Sanders, about 37 percent of voters would support Sanders compared with 30 percent for Trump and 8 percent for Bloomberg.
•If Cruz and Clinton win the nominations, Clinton would win 38 percent of the vote against 25 percent for Cruz and Bloomberg at 10 percent.
•If Bloomberg ran against the current front-runners, Trump and Clinton: 37 percent would support Clinton, followed by 31 percent for Trump and 9 percent for Bloomberg.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Tom Brown)