May the Schwarzman Be With You

Photo: Patrick McMullan/Getty Images
William D. Cohan
August 30, 2023

While chatting the other day with Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire co-founder of the Blackstone Group, I asked him about his thoughts on the upcoming 2024 presidential election. Should we be resigned to a repeat of the BidenTrump race of 2020, or is it possible we might end up with a less predictable outcome? 

At 76 years old, Steve is a wise man on Wall Street. He is also quite politically astute and extremely well informed, even if he did serve for six months as the chairman of Trump’s bizarre 16-member Strategic and Policy Forum, prior to its dissolution in the wake of the Charlottesville riot. “I’ve learned that presidential elections are much more difficult to predict than people who are predicting them think they are,” Steve said. He reminded me that at the end of 2003, John Kerry was polling seventh in the Democratic primary race… and went on to become the nominee. At this point in the 2016 election cycle, he noted, it was Scott Walker leading the Republican field, followed by Jeb Bush, and “the soon-to-be indicted” Rudy Giuliani, in third. 

What we know so far in 2023, Steve continued, is that 65 percent of Americans don’t want Biden to run again, and that 55 percent of Americans don’t want Trump to run again. “Seems odd,” he said, “if that’s what America wants, that’s what America is not going to get. I don’t know. I’ve seen all kinds of weird things with people ahead, they fall behind, they disappear. And it’s just way too early to have some conclusion that two people that the country doesn’t want are going to be the logical outcomes.”