Donatelli Posits Potential Party Moderation as a Result of Schultz 2020 Bid

February 6, 2019

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In a Feb. 4 article for Detroit News, McGuireWoods Consulting senior advisor, Frank Donatelli, analyzed the reactions of both Democrats and Republicans to Howard Schultz’ announcement that he is considering a presidential run as a centrist independent.

Some Democrats have expressed concern, believing that one of the best chances at winning the election is to be the only alternative to President Trump.

“According to this calculus, it shouldn’t matter if Democrats nominate a centrist or a far left or even a socialist candidate,” Donatelli said. Adding, “In this scenario, Democratic candidates can appease their base voters by promising a bigger and bigger federal government – without any electoral consequences.”

With Schultz running as a centrist, many Republicans believe his independent candidacy will help them. However, there are several examples throughout history where the incumbent party has lost the White House despite the presence of a strong independent or third party candidate, including victories by Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.

“In his ‘60 Minutes’ interview, Schultz focused on Democratic issues such as climate change, diversity, and a fair and open society. What if he added to that litany a plan to refocus government regulation to enhance and strengthen free markets as the best way to bring prosperity to all Americans?” Donatelli said.

Schultz’ platform could provide an opportunity to attract voters from across the political spectrum.

Donatelli emphasized, “Let’s be clear: The odds are strongly against an independent winning the White House. That is typically because major parties are smart enough to co-opt their issues. But what if the parties stubbornly cling to more familiar territory?”

A Schultz candidacy could force the major parties to broaden their appeal – addressing broader issues and not narrow, partisan concerns, he said.