Remember the Democratic freak out over former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz? They fear that his possible 2020 candidacy will split the anti-Trump vote and allow the president to clinch a second term. As a result, the former coffee executive, who is undergoing a book tour now, has been at the receiving end of some pretty intense hatred from progressives. Booting Trump is paramount for these people and Schultz could torpedo those plans, despite the 2020 field looking more left-wing and insane by the day. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) just called for the destruction of private health insurance. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is calling for a wealth tax. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), while not running, also supports taxing those at the tippy tops. Schultz is a Democrat. He’s donated to Democrats, but he can’t run as one. They’re too far to the left. While on his book tour, he’s used his media hits to also trash Democrats, saying that Harris’ health care proposal was un-American and that Warren’s agenda is full-blown socialism. He also credited Ocasio-Cortez’ insane pro-tax agenda as one of the reasons why he can’t run as a Democrat.
He’s also commissioned polls, which National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar commented on in a thread on Twitter.
SCOOPLET: Schultz adviser passes along some of the topline #s from their internal polling.— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 30, 2019
Schultz commissioned several ballot tests over the past few months, found "centrist indy" polling between 25-low 30s // Trump consistently at 29-30 // Warren between 26-30%.
With Warren on the ballot, found that about 24% of Dems defected to the generic centrist-independent alternative and 20% of Trump Republicans.— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 30, 2019
Polling found Trump's strong support with Rs around 70%.
worth noting polling 101: naming a generic"centrist-indy" option will lead to a higher % than if Schultz or any other candidate is named. think of it as something of a high water mark.— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 30, 2019
also should add that the centrist-indy option carried ~40% of indies on average in the surveys Schultz conducted.— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 30, 2019
“Schultz commissioned several ballot tests over the past few months, found "centrist [independent]" polling between 25-low 30s // Trump consistently at 29-30 // Warren between 26-30 percent,” said Kraushaar. “With Warren on the ballot, found that about 24 percent of Dems defected to the generic centrist-independent alternative and 20 percent of Trump Republicans. Polling found Trump's strong support with Republicans around 70 percent.”
Now, Kraushaar did add a few caveats, notably that Schultz isn’t named, so the “generic independent” numbers are inflated a bit more than if Schultz were named. He added that the “generic indy” did garner 40 percent of independent voters as well. So, if I were a Democrat, yeah—I guess I would be mad about a potential independent candidacy by Schultz.
Does this guy have a chance? He does, Kraushaar says he has better chances that Michael Bloomberg, which isn’t saying much, given the strength of the third party runs in recent cycles. But a lot of things need to align, mostly based on screw-ups from the two major parties (via National Journal):
The biggest challenge for Schultz is competing for the blue-collar Obama-Trump vote... which wld be outside his comfort zone.— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 31, 2019
Why his decision to tease campaign on Morning Joe, a Manhattan bookstore a missed opportunity. Why Kasich -- at least in theory -- has more upside.
Schultz does have money. And a well-regarded team of advisers that (theoretically) would understand that to win, he'd need to figure out how to build an ideologically-clunky coalition.— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 31, 2019
Normally, I’d join the deep-seated skepticism toward any independent presidential candidate. There’s a reason why centrist, business-friendly candidates are duds with the general electorate. It’s because they’re not filling a void. But there’s never been a moment in modern American history when both parties nominated populist disruptors. The vacuum is always on the populist side, as two establishment-friendly candidates face off and leave a wide opening for candidates with views similar to Trump's.
Yet there’s a very real chance that the untapped market in a 2020 general election will be upper-middle-class suburban voters—the kind that swung the House from Republican to Democratic control in 2018. They’re amply represented across the country. And if Trump squared off against a socialist-minded candidate like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, there would be plenty of up-for-grabs voters should a well-funded candidate like Schultz give them that choice.
There are good reasons to be bearish about a Schultz candidacy. Even ideologically polarizing nominees typically pivot back to the middle in general elections for their own self-interest. Most analysts expect polarization to persist, pushing voters toward one of the two parties even if they disagree with parts of their preferred party’s platform.
Democrats wouldn’t be freaking out if Schultz’s third-party candidacy were a vanity project. He’s hired top consulting talent who have experience appealing to the very suburban voters who are up for grabs. If he focuses his message on providing competence at a time of growing chaos, he could become a reassuring alternative for a critical mass of Americans in 2020.
I think we should all remain in the skeptical camp concerning Schultz's chances. This isn't Robin Williams in Man of the Year. It's insanely early. The 2020 Democratic clown car isn't even at capacity yet. Still, if he feels compelled to run, he should. I hope he does. It's always entertaining to see liberals freak out.