Democratic fears grow over third-party candidates

Democrats are concerned about efforts to recruit third-party candidates in 2024, fearing they could take votes away from President Biden’s re-election.

The bipartisan ‘No Labels’ group has been working to build the foundation to launch a ‘unity ticket’ to cast itself as a separate option from either Democrats or Republicans as polls show a rematch between Biden and the former President Trump is likely. And Cornel West, a progressive activist, became the first relatively well-known third-party candidate to enter the race.

The developments come as polls show Americans are embittered at the prospect of a Biden-Trump rematch. A NewsNation/DDHQ poll released this week found that 49% of respondents said they were somewhat or very likely to consider voting for a third-party candidate in 2024 if Trump and Biden were the nominees.

Meanwhile, an NBC News poll released last month found that 70% of Americans said they don’t want Biden to run for president next year, while 60% say they don’t. that Trump is running for president in 2024.

“It’s almost universal,” said former rep Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who is involved with No Labels. “People just say ‘350 million Americans, can’t we have a different game?'”

Biden and Trump have grappled with their own sets of issues as they embark on the 2024 campaign cycle. Biden, 80, and Trump, 76, have both faced questions about their ages – especially Biden, who would be 86 if he were to complete a second term.

Meanwhile, Trump, who hands down the Republican primary field, faces his second indictment in three months. The Justice Department revealed Friday that Trump has been charged with 37 counts related to the mishandling of records at Mar-a-Lago in addition to his efforts to prevent the government from recovering the documents.

Trump charged with 37 counts in Mar-a-Lago case

West used his candidacy to directly address both candidates’ frustrations. In his launch video, West, a member of the People’s Party, called Biden a “milquetoast neoliberal” and called Trump a “neofascist.”

In an interview with Semafor on Friday, West addressed Democrats’ concerns about third-party campaigns.

FILE - Harvard professor Cornel West speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore Center Arena on May 10 February 2020, in Durham, NH West says he will run for President in 2024 as a third-party candidate.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Cornel West speaks at a 2020 campaign rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH West is running for president in 2024 as a third-party candidate. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

“If Democrats don’t want third-party candidates like me, why don’t you put the poor and working people, here and abroad, at the center of your vision? Biden served as interim president for four years,” West told the outlet.

“Democrats can’t have interim presidents forever,” he added. “If the only alternative to neoliberalism is neofascism, it’s a disaster, and you’ll always have fascism sooner or later. You have to face fascism with vision, with passion; you have to re-channel the insecurities and fears of American citizens. This is how you undermine fascism, internally.

While West’s chances of being elected president are slim, his candidacy, like previous third-party candidacies, could impact the election results.

Amy Walter, editor of the Cook Political Report, responded to news of West’s candidacy on Twitter by asking if his candidacy posed more of a threat to Biden than that of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

In an interview on Fox News on Wednesday, veteran GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway said the answer to Walter’s question was “yes.”

Election coverage on the Hill 2024

“It’s very likely,” Conway told the network. “Amy Walter is onto something, and I’ll tell you why: Even if you don’t become president, you, as a third-party candidate spoiler, can decide who the president is.”

Ross Perot and Ralph Nader are two of the most notable examples of third-party candidates seen as deciding factors in elections. In 1992, Perot won around 19% of the vote and won no electoral votes. But many Republicans were quick to call it a spoiler. In 2000, Nader was accused of playing spoiler after former President George W. Bush narrowly defeated former Vice President Al Gore. Green Party candidate Jill Stein also faced allegations that her candidacy helped elect Trump in 2016 when she only won about 1% of the popular vote.

“Those of us who lived and worked in the 2016 election, it gives most of us political PTSD,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist and senior visiting fellow at the center-center think tank. Left Third Way.

“Because if you think about the third-party activity that took place in the 2016 election, we now know in retrospect that that literally played a significant role in the cost of perhaps the most qualified person to run for office.” , did he declare. “And we know what resulted from that, a right-wing activist tribunal that forever changed the footprint of this country.”

Groups like Third Way and the Lincoln Project, a group critical of the state of the GOP under Trump, have come out strongly against the prospect of a third-party nominee. The groups have notably targeted No Labels.

“It’s a guaranteed spoiler and the risk is entirely on the Democratic side,” said Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at Third Way. “It should be noted that Democrats are concerned about No Label’s third-party candidacy and no Republicans are concerned, at least no Republicans who support Trump or who would support another Republican candidate. All of this concern is on the Democratic side.

“Democrats rely on moderate and independent voters a lot more than Republicans do in national elections,” he added.

According to a Third Way memo released this week, the group said No Label polling data showed a “moderate independent candidate” garnering 20% ​​of the vote, while Biden came in at 28% and Trump at 33%. . No Labels responded with its own memo, noting that polling data from No Label also revealed that 18% of voters said they ‘didn’t know’ or were ‘not sure’ who they would vote for. .

No Labels maintained that a third-party offer is viable, citing a poll that shows voters don’t want a Trump vs. Biden rematch. The group says its poll shows 59% of voters say they would consider a moderate, independent ticket in 2024 if Trump and Biden were the nominees. The group is on the ballot in Arizona, Alaska, Colorado and Oregon.

The group has faced backlash, most recently in Maine, where the secretary of state accused No Labels of misleading voters in its effort to get on the state ballot. No Labels said in a statement responding to a cease and desist letter from Maine election officials that organizers had been given “clear instructions” to ask voters to change their party affiliation.

Despite the controversy, the group has well-known supporters on both sides of the aisle, including former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) and civil rights leader Ben Chavis, who are both national co-chairs. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is the founding chairman of the group. Former Rep. Joe Cunningham (DS.C.) also spoke out in favor of the group.

Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), who has a 12-year relationship with the group, has often been touted as a potential pick to lead the group’s unity ticket. Manchin has not ruled out a presidential election in 2024.

However, the group has yet to publicly field any candidates and has maintained that its priority is to vote in all 50 states.

“Our eye on the ball right now is on state ballots,” Upton said, predicting that number will be close to 10 by the end of June.

Upton said he thought the group’s goal of running for office in all 50 states was “achievable,” but he pushed back against the idea that a third-party offer would benefit Trump.

“I was actually with President Bush 41 the day he got the call from Ross Perot that he was running, and it was pretty deflating, to say the least,” said Upton. “Unlike Perot, they really take both sides.”

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