People have this all wrong. Schultz isn’t going to run as a Democrat because he isn’t a Democrat. He says so himself when he tells you that he opposes nearly every major policy the Democratic Party stands for. Schultz isn’t a Democrat. He’s a pre-Trump Republican in the mold of a William Weld or a Jeb Bush or a W Bush prior to 9/11. You know, a “fiscally conservative but socially liberal” and “free markets forever” sort of guy.
If he were to stay in the race — which he almost certainly will not — he will function as the equivalent of as what we now call a “Never Trump Republican,” except that because he’s confused about how our institutional structures work, he’d call himself an “independent.” Which is fine. It’s just branding, after all.
So Democrats, stop fretting. He almost certainly won’t run for real, but if he does, he will get the handful of votes from voters who cannot vote for Trump but also would never vote for Democrats, because Democrats want things that he and his fellow Never Trumpers abhor.
Alternative hypotheses welcome, so long as they include an explanation of Steve Schmidt’s role in Schultz’s new organization. Schmidt worked for McCain and for W, among others, and comes with an extensive set of ideological and political pre-commitments.