I really don’t go out of my way to disagree with the conventional wisdom. It’s just that so often, the conventional wisdom is wrong.
On who the potential “centrist independent” presidential candidacy of Starbucks mastermind Howard Schultz hurts the most, the conventional wisdom is most definitely wrong. First of all, I think the odds of Schultz even being on the 2020 presidential ballot — or any viable independent candidate for that matter — are about the odds of CNN figuring out what a banana is. The reason(s) why would take a whole separate column to articulate, but for the purposes of this exercise let’s assume that Schultz is running.
If there is an option to vote for Schultz for president in 641 days, it will come at the expense of President Trump and not the eventual Democrat nominee — regardless of who it is or how crazy he or she may be. There are three reasons why.
1) Schultz doesn’t appeal to the types of Democrat-leaning voters the party is drifting away from.
According to several studies of the 2016 electorate, anywhere from 6.7 to 9.2 million people who previously voted for Obama for president voted for Trump. A New York Times study found about a third of the counties that went twice for Obama shifted to Trump in 2016, most of them working-class or rural counties in Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, and Wisconsin. There aren’t too many men who show up for work on the farms of Iowa and Wisconsin, or to the factories of Michigan and Ohio, with a cinnamon shortbread frappuccino that costs more than a footlong at Subway. They have no idea the music inside Starbucks is “painfully white,” because they’ve likely never set foot inside one.
2) The primary Democrat-leaning voter Schultz does appeal to will come from states the Democrats can’t lose — no matter what.
Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in the 22 places that awarded her Electoral College votes in the last presidential election was a whopping 16.8 points per contest. Even if Schultz were to defy the odds and have a Ross Perot type of impact, like when that “centrist independent” billionaire candidacy netted 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992, it wouldn’t hurt the Democrats all that much. Of the 29 states where Perot received at least 20 percent of the popular vote that year, more than half were states Trump won in 2016. Only four of them — Arizona, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Colorado — are considered crucial “swing states” in the 2020 cycle. By the way, Perot’s margin flipped three of those states to the Democrats that year. Heck, Perot hurt George H.W. Bush so bad in 1992 that it’s conceivable he could have won even California without Perot. H.W. Bush lost the state by 13 points to Bill Clinton, with Perot receiving 21 percent of the vote statewide. To put it more simply, if Schultz got 20 percent of the vote in New York state in 2016, and exit polls showed 75 percent of that came at the expense of Democrats, Trump still could not have won the state. In fact, he still would have lost it by almost a million votes.
3) Schultz does appeal to the kinds of Republican-leaning voters least loyal to Trump.
Trump basically won the presidency by 77,744 votes in three states — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Now imagine the Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and Mitt Romney type of NeverTrump Republican who doesn’t care about the culture war, but only the war for control of the GOP carcass at all costs, now has a proxy to affirmatively project angst upon, someone with real resources who is now a year out building his political brand, unlike a last-minute Evan McMullin protest candidacy. Combine that group with the profile of the average Starbucks customer, who is a white-collar professional earning $90,000 per year or more, is around 42 years of age, and lives in or near an affluent neighborhood. By golly, who does that sound like? Why, those suburban women who are Trump’s number-one target demo to win re-election, a demo that Republicans lost by eight points in the 2018 midterms after winning them in 2010, 2014, and 2016.
As you can see, once again the conventional wisdom may make for great clickbait, but it’s crap analysis. But if all this data still doesn’t prove to you the conventional wisdom is wrong, check out these numbers from pollster Scott Rasmussen.
Steve Deace is broadcast nationally every day on BlazeTV. He is the author of the book “Truth Bombs: Confronting the Lies Conservatives Believe (To Our Own Demise).”