Ohio Gov. John Kasich (Republican), and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (Democrat), have reportedly discussed the idea of forming a “unity” presidential ticket to run for the White House in 2020. Kasich and Hickenlooper would run as independents, with Kasich at the top of the ticket. The concept is to bring the country together behind two centrists to represent the broad middle ground. Could it work?
In a word, no.
A source close to both men said, “What they are trying to show the country is that honorable people can disagree, but you can still solve problems together. It happens in business and it happens in families. Why can’t it happen in Washington?”
That’s easy. Because Washington is neither a business nor a family.
Two weeks ago, Kickenlooper told Politico, “I don’t think Kasich would ever do that. I don’t think it’s in the cards. But I do like the idea of working with him in some context at some point.”
Could this be that point?
Yes, it could be, except for one thing – it won’t work.
The two governors are working together on major policy issues such as healthcare and immigration – a rare, bipartisan alliance at a time of deep-seeded acrimony between the two political parties. The next steps for the men would be more policy than politically focused.
The source continued, “Watch on the policy front as they expand beyond healthcare and also include other governors in the coalition.”
So why won’t it work? I mean, President Trump has historically low poll numbers. And Congress is polling at even lower numbers. The vast majority of Americans don’t approve of either party or their leaders. The current face of the Democratic Party, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, is taken less seriously than new episodes of The Gong Show.
So why won’t this centrist, come together strategy work? For four reasons.
1. Kasich and Hickenlooper don’t agree on much.
That’s why one is called a Republican and the other a Democrat. Other than their rhetoric – which is commendable – the only things the governors have in common is the same first name and two last names no one quite knows how to spell. Kasich is pro-life, while Hickenlooper is pro-choice. Kasich is in agreement with 90 percent of the Republican platform; Hickenlooper supports 90 percent of the Democratic platform. The vice president pretty much needs to support the president’s agenda. And Hickenlooper is on record as opposing most of what Kasich supports. That makes sense – he’s a Democrat.
2. Few would vote for them.
Those who think a “centrist” ticket can win need only consult Presidents Perot and Anderson. It’s like the fellow who couldn’t decide if he was for the Union or the Confederacy, so he wore gray pants and a blue shirt. He got shot by both sides. The deal is, many people say they want a centrist, but when you drill down, at least 80 percent agree mostly with either the left of the right. So when it comes time to vote, they will vote for the man and party which represents their views. The muddled middle just isn’t that large. That’s why, in most elections, less than ten percent vote for one party for president, but another down ballot.
3. They can’t raise money.
People give money out of passion. And few people are passionate about being in the middle. Seeing Congress “work” doesn’t stoke passion, let alone financial contributions. Both political parties will be flush with cash. That means advertising. And that is critical for any election.
4. The Trump factor will make it impossible for them to win.
In 1992, most of the 19 percent who voted for Perot knew they were taking votes away from either Bush or Clinton. But they didn’t care, because people weren’t that passionate about Bush or Clinton. But that’s not the world we live in today. No one is undecided about President Trump. Those who support him would never slide to the middle. And those who oppose him would never divide their votes between the Democratic nominee and the centrist ticket.
So can a Kasich-Hickenlooper ticket win in 2020? On a scale of 1-10, the chances are 0.