There’s been lots of news relating to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’ public flirtation (as of this writing) with running for president as a “centrist independent.”
The blow back — in my little corner of the Twittersphere at any rate — has been loud and restless (and often funny). I’m interested in the fact that Steve Schmidt, a thoughtful and bright political operative who was a senior adviser on John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid (if you haven’t read or seen Game Change and you’re a political nerd, it’s highly recommended) is advising Schultz. That being said, I personally find Schultz’ bio (rich corporate guy who has never held public office) and initial stated positions (national debt is out of hand) to be very out of step with the current mood of anyone in the anti-Trump or potentially anti-Trump community. So therefore, I do find it a little flimsy that Shmidt is leading with an argument that Schultz could be a “fail safe” because the Democrats might nominate a candidate who is “so far to the left that it guarantees Trump a reelection.”
As I noted on Twitter, I’m not saying I can’t see Trump winning re-election (shivers…), but I don’t think it will be based on a purely ideological left/right basis at all. Whoever the Dems nominate will turn into an all out mud fest-meets-character assassination war, and the fact that Trump will (likely?) be the GOP nominee absolutely guarantees this. That’s one thing we can take to the bank.
Over the course of the week, the “Schultz effect” has become a thing. The “effect” is much more about the fierce reaction from the left to Schultz’ machinations than the impact at this very early stage on the race. As Axios notes, the biggest impact could be on the decisions of several centrist-leaning Democrats — Joe Biden, Terry McAuliffe, Michael Bloomberg (who would be a Dem in a ’20 incarnation) — to run for the 2020 nomination.
- The decision on whether to enter the crowded 2020 field is becoming a math problem. Just one moderate candidate could have an advantage, with a bunch of progressives splitting the liberal vote. But multiple moderates could be splitting too small a slice.
That’s to say that for Democrats with the “moderate” tag hung on them, winning the nomination could be an uphill climb. For instance, as a Gallup poll relays, Democrats feel more positively about socialism in the abstract than they do about capitalism.
This post originally appeared in what had originally been called The Eric Berlin E-mail Newsletter. To get a weekly blast of pop culture, digital media, and politics that helps make sense of an increasingly frazzled world, sign on up for The Berlin Files here.