Does Howard Schultz Impact 2020 Presidential Betting Odds?

Does Howard Schultz Impact 2020 Presidential Betting Odds?

Howard Schultz is not officially running for president (yet), but his flirtation with a White House run has garnered extensive media attention – and an outpouring of public anger – even before he has officially declared his candidacy.

During a speech at Purdue University Feb. 7, the former Starbucks CEO laid out many of his values as well as goals for a potential presidential run, though didn’t say he had decided to run. However, the address made it seem more likely than ever Schultz would run as a self-described independent centrist against the future Republican and Democratic presidential nominees in 2020.

Before the official declaration of what now seems like an inevitable candidacy, bookmakers are not expecting a successful campaign.

Trump Remains Betting Favorite

Though questions abound about the 2020 Democratic nominee – and even those who will seek it – one thing has remained consistent in the eyes of political handicappers – Donald Trump is the clear favorite.

Trump remains the 2-1 favorite among most bookmakers including Paddy Power Betfair, which has become infamous for its wagering on U.S. presidential elections. Despite rampant speculation about his impeachment and removal from office, Trump remains the odds-on favorite to win both the Republican nomination in 2020 as well as the presidency.

Vice President Mike Pence, whose own odds would skyrocket should Trump be removed or leave office, has the second-best odds among Republicans at 25-1.

Though some of the left of the political spectrum fear a Schultz run could take away would-be Democratic votes and tilt the election in Trump’s favor, for now there appears little influence on presidential betting odds from a possible third-party campaign.

Democratic candidates have also largely avoided any negative early impact on their betting odds with the looming Schultz campaign announcement. Bolstered by strong showings in the 2018 midterm elections, Democratic candidates have seen their odds to secure the White House become increasingly more favorable.

They are led by California Sen. Kamala Harris, who tops a list of nearly a dozen declared candidates at 5-1. Harris is followed by former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (9-1), former Vice President Joe Biden (10-1) and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (18-1).

All these politicians are significantly ahead of the billionaire businessman.

Schultz is currently at 75-1 to win the presidency at Paddy Power, the same odds as actor and former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He trails dozens of other politicians and celebrities in odds, including retired 84-year-old former Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch as well a conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro.

Why Schultz is Such a Longshot

Schultz faces multiple challenges to win the presidency, namely his decision to run as a third-party candidate.

No president outside one of the nation’s two major political parties has won the presidency since George Washington in 1789, which is an understatement to say was a vastly different time in American politics. No third-party candidate has secured more than five percent of the vote since Ross Perot in 1996 and none have won an electoral college vote, aside from one cast by a faithless elector, since George Wallace in 1968.

Baring removal from office or resignation, Trump seems all-but assured of securing the Republican Party nomination in the 2020 election, and Schultz has shown no inclination of seeking a nod from the GOP. He has an equally small chance of securing the Democratic nomination.

A self-described life-long Democrat, Schultz endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 before breaking with the party in subsequent years, saying it has gone too far to the political left. He has since alienated many Democratic leaders by hinting at a run in recent months, leading them to fear he could potentially take votes away from the party’s 2020 nominee and in turn boost Trump’s campaign.

He has also publicly spared with many Democratic candidates’ policy positions, particularly through his opposition to universal Medicare and marginal tax rate increases for wealthy Americans as well as his support for entitlement reforms. He has positioned himself as a centrist, supporting traditional liberal social positions but more conservative fiscal views, especially in regard to lowering the national debt.

That’s much of the reason why Paddy Power has him among the steepest longshots to secure the Democratic nominee. Though better odds that the presidency, the Irish bookmaker lists him at 50-1 odds – the same as actor George Clooney and nearly twice as long as scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is listed at 22-1.

Conversely, fellow billionaire and potential third-party candidate Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is listed at 16-1 to take the Democratic nomination.

Can Schultz Win the Presidency?

The third-party obstacles aside, Schultz, at least publicly, has expressed his confidence about the race. The campaign claims internal polling shows the former CEO earning around 15 percent of the vote, putting him within the threshold necessary to appear in a formal presidential debate. That major exposure could, in theory, propel Schultz even higher up in the minds of voters.

But even 15 percent of the vote would not be nearly to win enough electoral votes to subsequently win the White House. He would have to hope to earn at least some state electoral college votes and deny either major party candidate from securing 270 (the majority) of the 538 total electoral college votes.

The constitution mandates that if no candidate wins at least 270 electoral college votes, the House of Representatives would then determine a winner among the top-three vote getters. In this incredibly unlikely scenario, Schultz would have had to then convince a majority of the House to go against the nominees of their political party and select him as the nation’s chief executive instead.

He also has to find a base of voters.

Though far from a scientific representation of American voters, Schultz has been routinely decried on Twitter and other social media platforms for his campaign, with thousands of tweets upset with his campaign’s potential to take votes away from a Democrat. Others have questioned the merits of such a campaign and derided the virtue of a run by the billionaire businessman.

That may help explain why external polling shows him in the single digits.

At the very least, Schultz has already captivated outsized attention for a longshot campaign, one that is sure to continue to keep political pundits, and bookmakers, busy in the long run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

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