New internal polling released by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz shows President Donald Trump with a slim lead over potential Democratic rivals Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, with Schultz polling a strong third.
Following his media blitz last week, Schultz, who said he is considering a third-party independent run, garnered 17 percent in the survey of 1,500 likely voters nationwide.
Trump led both Harris and Warren by one percent, at 33 to 32 percent. Nineteen percent responded they were undecided.
NBC News reported that Schultz sitting above 15 percent in the poll is significant because that is the threshold for a third party candidate to be eligible to participate in debates during the general election.
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) February 3, 2019
The Commission on President Debates requires 15 percent support in an average of five selected polling organizations publicly reported before the debate.
Further, third party candidates have to be qualified to appear on the ballots in enough states to have a mathematical chance of winning the Electoral College to become president.
Each state has its own laws regarding ballot qualification, but it generally involves gaining a requisite number of signatures from registered voters in the state by a certain time.
The last third party candidate to have met the criteria to participate in debates during the general election was billionaire businessman Ross Perot, who ran in 1992 against then-President George H.W. Bush and then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.
Perot went on to win 19 percent of the popular vote in the general election, but did not win any states in the Electoral College.
A 1995 study found that Perot took more votes from Bush than Clinton, but not enough to overcome Clinton’s lead over his Republican rival.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez hopes Schultz does not follow Perot’s path and run as a third-party candidate, fearing the coffee mogul could cost the Democrats a win in 2020.
“I have respect for Howard Schultz. If he chooses to get in the race, I hope he gets in the Democratic Party. We’ll treat him very fairly,” Perez told Fox News last week.
“What an independent run would do in 2020 is simply split the anti-Trump vote and help Donald Trump get re-elected,” Perez said.
Schultz, who described himself as a lifelong Democrat, believes the party has drifted too far toward socialism.
The Washington Post reported that he opposes calls by Harris and Warren for Medicare for all, arguing the country cannot afford it.
The businessman also believes that plans to try to tax the wealthy at 70 to 90 percent would hurt the economy.
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