I think someone is about to become a third party candidate in the Presidential race and I think we are going to get some hints about it today.
There have previous rethink posts about alice.com and Coinstar in how they have taken very traditional two party transaction business models and in a very seamless way, added a third party to the equation, both with a lot of success – in business.
Just last week I was talking with my friend Scot, saying that the only way the Republicans can win the 2012 Presidential election is if a third party candidate enters the mix and takes votes away from Obama (in what has almost always been a two party race). While Scot agreed, he was quick to point out that taking Democratic votes is a very different thing from taking Republican votes.
So this weekend when I saw the full page ad in the Sunday New York Times from Howard Schultz talking about his new organization Upward Spiral, seeing the people behind it, with a company called No Labels, I figured this was it. Although their logo is a little confusing to me in that it’s not a spiral, It’s very red, white, and blue.
Why do I think this is meaningful?
1) Full page ads in The New York Times and USA Today aren’t cheap and they don’t help Starbucks much
2) The event tonight is the day before the big debate among Republicans – that can’t be a coincidence
3) Just take a look at who is behind No Labels – major inside the Beltway people, not some bunch of red-blooded baristas
4) Someone last night suggested this was just Howard getting behind a cause he really believes in – and by the way, I think a lot of people are going to respond well to the message. If that were the case, then why the association with No Labels?
5) Howard doesn’t have anything more to prove. He put his book at #1 on the best seller list, he has made loads of money at Starbucks, and has even come back to help them at a time when they struggled. Jumping into politics makes some sense.
Is it Howard? My guess is no. As my friend Ross said “I’ve met the guy and he’s as inspirational as toast.” Any third party candidate at this stage has to be a bit of a wild hair (remember Ross Perot? different Ross from the one I quoted, by the way) and that’s not Howard.
But it’s perfect timing, the issue is clear and basic, and I think this could be a majorly disruptive moment if executed well, and really make the element of “3″ a huge factor come next election.
Any guesses as to who it might be? I think Jon Stewart or Colbert would be greatly disruptive, I just don’t think they need the headache.