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The Growing Threat from No Labels (and Others)
The emergence of third-party candidates could make the 2024 election look a lot like 2016.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my biggest concern for Joe Biden’s reelection prospects:
There is one obvious way that Trump could win. It keeps me up at night because it’s how he won in 2016. It’s staring us all in the face — a third-party candidate. And specifically, a third-party candidate named Joe Manchin.
Nate Silver responded on Twitter to my Message Box post with a vehement disagreement (thanks for the additional traffic):
It’s always risky to disagree with a data nerd named “Nate.” Regardless, if the economy is roaring and Biden’s approval is high, he will beat Trump no matter who else is on the ballot. But in all other scenarios, a third-party candidate(s) makes it easier for Trump to win at his ceiling of around 47%.
And I am sorry to report that my concerns around the danger of a third-party candidate have only grown in recent days.
No Labels Removes the Mask
No Labels is under fire from Democrats concerned about the tens of millions of dollars they are raising to get a centrist bi-partisan ticket on the ballot. They already achieved ballot access in four states including Arizona — a state Joe Biden won by less than 11,000 votes in 2020.
No Labels responded to the unrelenting and well-deserved barrage of criticism with a torrent of bullshit. Amidst their ravings, they did, however, admit one very essential truth about their motivation. According to Politico:
The centrist political organization No Labels has defended its third-party presidential bid by insisting there’s a broad voter appetite for a candidate running in the political middle.
But the group said it would likely exit the race entirely if Donald Trump doesn’t win the GOP nomination — even as more conservative candidates such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis run to Trump’s right.
It’s hard to trust the No Labels folks, but this statement is evidence that they care more about themselves than moderation, centrism, or bi-partisanship. Ron DeSantis is as Right Wing as Trump, but No Labels is unconcerned about getting involved if he is the nominee, The goal: raise money to enrich themselves and lift their profile. And if their campaign of vanity and avarice elects Trump, so be it.
And Speaking of Electing Trump
No Labels protests way too much when folks like me accuse them of helping Trump get back into the White House. Data for Progress used a poll to test this proposition. The findings are clear; a No Labels candidacy increases the likelihood that Trump wins in 2024:
While Joe Biden is ahead of Trump in a hypothetical head-to-head contest, the introduction of a No Labels candidate siphons votes away from Biden, leading to a Trump victory. Specifically, the poll tested voter support for a realistic contender for a No Labels ticket, Larry Hogan, popular former governor of Maryland, as well as an unnamed moderate Independent candidate, a hypothetical candidate free from political baggage. We find that in addition to enabling a Trump victory, neither third-party candidate would be a viable contender, trailing either major candidate by nearly 30 points even in their best-case scenario.
In other words, there is no chance that a No Labels candidate wins the White House. They would take more votes from Biden than Trump.
A tied race nationally would almost certainly equal a Trump victory in the Electoral College since the battleground states are more Republican than the nation as a whole. In 2020, Biden won the popular vote 51% to 47% but the election was still decided by 40,000 votes in a handful of states.
A Third-Party Threat From the Left
As if we didn’t need more to worry about, Cornel West, the Left Wing activist and prominent supporter of Bernie Sanders, announced that he was seeking the nomination of the Green Party. In 2016, Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, played a major role in helping Trump win. In Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Stein’s total number of votes exceeded Trump’s margin.
The Green Party is on the ballot in 16 states including Michigan and Wisconsin. The emergence of someone like West as the Green Party candidate creates a new concern for Democrats. If the No Labels ticket is a vessel for anti-Trump Republicans and Independents, a West candidacy could siphon Liberals dissatisfied with Joe Biden. This is a dangerous pincer movement that will undoubtedly be weaponized by the forces trying to elect Trump. Democrats will be fighting a war on two fronts.
While only a small number of individuals may vote for these third party candidates, the 2024 presidential election is likely to be decided by fewer people than are in attendance at a single Taylor Swift concert this summer.
And who is running West’s campaign?
Yep, Jill Stein.
If that’s not poetic, I don’t know what is.