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Crossing Over and Being Independent Are Not the Same Thing

Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times has an interesting blog post up about who his readers think will be either Obama's or McCain's running mate come November (should they each win their respective nomination, which the majority of these readers think will happen).

What's interesting is not who comes out on top in each polling, but the fact that Mike Bloomberg shows up in each.

So, even though Bloomberg has said he won't seek the presidency, he could very quickly become one of the most important people come November.

Sure, he's got the money and the connections and nearly everything else that helps someone get elected. But he's also got the ability to cross over. Or he could stay independent. The two, by the way, are not the same thing.

Crossing over means you can jump from one category to another and take people (supporters, fans, readers) with you. Independence means you do your own thing, creating your own category and hoping people eventually cross over to your side.

Neither one is necessarily better. It really depends on what you're selling, asking for or promoting. Carrie Underwood sells lots of records because her music can cross over and get played on country and pop radio. But she probably couldn't cross over from singing to acting.

On the other hand, Mitch Hedberg did his own thing until his death and developed loyal fans. He probably could never have crossed-over to comedy in the style of Will Ferrell.

Crossing over allows people to understand you before they've heard of you because you're able to be organized into a column with a word at the top that everyone's heard of. Being independent means people have to have heard of you before they can describe you.

Bloomberg's ability to cross over to either party is now more important than his ability to stay independent. But that wasn't the case before last week.