(CN) - When former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg confirmed earlier this year that he was weighing an independent run for the presidency, he cited the banality of the comments already dominating the political discussion, statements that he called "an insult to the voters."
He was "looking at all the options" he told The Financial Times of London in early February. He then called Douglas Schoen, the veteran Democratic pollster and former advisor to President Bill Clinton, to gauge his prospects.
Those polls, conducted in February and earlier this month, looked at Bloomberg's appeal nationally and also, specifically, in 22 states deemed essential to a successful presidential campaign.
They found voters generally responded favorably to the billionaire founder of the Bloomberg financial news empire, but also that in a three-way race against Republican Donald Trump and either Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the best he could hope for was creating a stalemate in the Electoral College.
This would have thrown the selection of the next president to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and presumably result in either Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the second-leading vote getter in the Republican primaries and caucus thus far, winding up in the White House.
On March 7, Bloomberg said he decided not to run because that outcome "is not a risk I can take in good conscious."
It has been, for many, an unsettling and yet surprisingly engaging primary season.
Few would have predicted the iconoclasts Trump among Republicans, Sanders among Democrats would define the national debate, or that an election year many expected would come down to sending either another Bush or Clinton to the White House could lead to a major realignment of both political parties before it's through.
Even those who had an inkling of what was going on, like Douglas Schoen, now admit it has been an electoral cycle that has confounded expectations.
"We have such a profound anger," Schoen told Courthouse News on Monday. "My colleague on [Fox News'] "The Political Insiders," Pat Caddell, has said the legitimacy of our institutions is in question, and I think he's right."
"On the right, the anger with the Republican leadership and with Washington is palpable, hence you have Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. And on the left, you have anger with Washington and also a sense that the game is rigged, and that we need radical redistribution of wealth and power, breaking up the banks, raising taxes on the wealthy," he said.
"That's why Bernie Sanders is doing as well as he is, and why Hillary is moving as far to the left as she in fact is," he added.
Another symptom of that dynamic is that, "the kiss of death in this election is to be perceived as being part of the establishment," Schoen said. "Look at what happened to Jeb Bush. Look what happened to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker."
Asked why establishment candidates didn't better position themselves to withstand the headwinds of a roiling electorate, Schoen said the level of anger people are feeling "Is well beyond what anybody anticipated."