No, my dude. Very much no.
But I’ll bet whichever advisor is shoveling this BS at Schultz to goad him into running will be well remunerated if he takes the plunge.
A Schultz adviser tells me his team sees opportunity in “the most moderate population the country’s ever had,” with so many “disengaged and disenchanted.”
In the latest Gallup data, 39% of people see themselves as independents, 34% as Ds and 25% as Rs.
The adviser said research by the Schultz team shows a centrist independent would draw evenly from the Republican and Democratic nominees, and bring Trump down to a “statistical floor of 26-27-28 percent.”
How you can look at America 2019 and see a clamor for moderation is unfathomable to me. Republicans embraced reactionary nationalism when they nominated Trump and all of the momentum among Democrats is towards Ocasio-Cortez democratic socialism. You want Gallup numbers? Here are some Gallup numbers:
The share of the population that calls itself “liberal” is up from the early 90s while the share that calls itself “conservative” is steady. The only group that’s declined is — you guessed it — “moderates.” That’s true within both parties too. Follow the link to Gallup’s story and you’ll find that Democratic “moderates” have shrunk from 48 percent of the party in 1992 to 34 percent now. Among Republicans, “moderates” have declined from 33 percent in 1994 to 22 percent today.
Even the figure cited in the excerpt about the large share of independent voters is misleading. Most “independents” ain’t really all that independent:
The great majority of indies lean strongly towards one party or the other but disclaim partisan affiliation for their own reasons. See, e.g., Republicans who’ve meandered away from the party out of contempt for Trump but who hold their noses and vote GOP on Election Day anyway to keep Democrats out of power. The strongest force in American politics right now is “negative partisanship,” defining yourself politically in terms of which side you’re against instead of which side you’re for. If you dislike POTUS but fear that the Ocasio-Cortez left is a mortal threat to America, congratulations. You’re an “independent” who is, for all intents and purposes, a Republican. Note the “leaners” here:
The entire Howard Schultz dream is based on an elementary misreading of polling data.
"Independents" doesn't mean "moderates."
And independents (or "leaners") aren't more centrist then ever. They're actually getting more partisan by the year! pic.twitter.com/4wjefHYtV3
— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) January 28, 2019
If you’re a GOP “leaner” you probably won’t be wasting a vote on Howard Schultz next fall, knowing how high the stakes are if Democrats win. Unless something happens to cause the bottom to fall out of his job approval, Trump is probably looking at a floor of 43 percent on Election Day and a ceiling of 46-47 percent, all thanks to negative partisanship.
But do the math. If he pulls 47 percent and Schultz spends 600 million bucks to win, say, seven percent — at the higher end of his expectations but not unrealistic — then guess who’s president in 2021. Four more years (of tweets)! In fact, as I write this, the hottest debate raging on political Twitter is whether Schultz would help Trump by pulling most of his support from the Democratic nominee or hurt Trump by pulling most of his support from POTUS. Lefties and friendly media types believe he’s more of a liability to them, and they’re incensed about it:
You are pretending to value pluralism while working to make sure a racist autocrat wins reelection so that your taxes won't go up. https://t.co/442A5UDyui
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) January 28, 2019
If Howard Schultz gets into the presidential race, @MoveOn, @IndivisibleTeam, the @DNC, the major unions, and the major presidential campaigns should all use their email lists to promote a Starbucks boycott until he drops out.
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) January 27, 2019
My fear is that Howard Schultz is a very rich and reasonably intelligent businessman who understands everything his critics are saying and simply *prefers* for Trump to stay in office because reasonably intelligent people know that Trump being in office is good for rich people.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 28, 2019
Clearest path to a Trump re-election IMO is nuclear attack by GOP on Dem nominee, driving up negatives, convincing like 5-10% of moderates in Midwest to back Howard Schultz because “I’m just tired of the negativity from both parties” https://t.co/2QbZzPaIYM
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 26, 2019
I tend to agree with them that Schultz threatens the Democrat more than he does Trump. For many (most?) voters, an election in which the president is on the ballot is a referendum: Does Trump deserve another term or not? His approval numbers are weak, the economy may be slowing down, and virtually everyone, including many of his fans, is weary of the daily tweet-farts. Give the public a stark yes-or-no option on Trump and the Democrat’s bound to attract lots of voters who aren’t thrilled with the left but will gamble on them for four years simply to move past the Trump era. Add a well-funded independent to the mix, though, and the election begins to seem less like a referendum than a true choice: Do I want four more years of Trump, or do I want to gamble on the Democrat, or do I want to cast a pox-on-both-their-houses vote for the sensible middle-ground guy to send a message to Washington to find common ground? Instinctively it seems to me that most people who’d end up opting for Schultz will begin the campaign strongly searching for an alternative to Trump. Which means it’s probably the Democratic nominee who’ll suffer most from a Schultz run.
Although not everyone’s so sure:
For instance, if Schultz runs on this message, isn't the core buyer a fiscally conservative voter who personally dislikes Trump but worries that the Democrat is way too far to the left? Trump probably needs those voters to win. Now they can vote Schultz. https://t.co/O6eoXQmGhC pic.twitter.com/dFDuCjSYAq
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 26, 2019
Philip Klein imagined how Schultz might end up helping Democrats to defeat Trump:
At its essence, independent “outsider” presidential bids such as the one Schultz is considering tend to be about how the status quo is broken. By its nature, that message ends up being more harmful to the incumbent, who is trying to make the case that things are on the right track. If Schultz runs, and spends tens of millions — even hundreds of millions — of his own money carpet bombing the nation with ads arguing that the country needs a major change, that could effectively validate the message of Democrats. Especially given that his status will allow him to attract earned media, as showcased by having been able to tease a presidential run on “60 Minutes” Sunday night. At the same time, it means that Trump has to fend off not just one, but two challengers. This morning, Trump popped off on Schultz on Twitter — but any time spent attacking Schultz is time not spent attacking his opponent. One could also imagine a scenario in which a Democrat running as a liberal populist could lump Schultz and Trump together and make the election about the people vs. the billionaires.
What we’re really debating here is whether there are more anti-Trump Republicans/leaners out there than there are anti-left Democrats/leaners. Or, perhaps, it’s not a question of raw numbers but of the intensity of each side’s negative partisanship. If Bernie ends up as the Democratic nominee and Howard Schultz starts flirting with centrist Democratic voters, what do those voters do? Stick with Sanders, however reluctantly, to serve the great liberal cause of Resisting Trump or send a message to their own party by bolting from the party for Schultz knowing full well that Trump, not Schultz, will ultimately benefit? If you look at Trump’s polling, you routinely find Democrats more unanimous in viewing him negatively than Republicans are in viewing him positively, suggesting that negative partisanship is stronger on the left than the right. Having just lived through a campaign, though, in which right-wing populists successfully corralled party unity behind Trump by chattering about the future of the Supreme Court and a “Flight 93 election,” I would never underestimate their ability to do it again. Especially if Democrats end up with Kamala Harris as nominee and both parties resort to corrosive identity-politics demagoguery during the campaign.