The race for the all-important 270 electoral votes is already well underway. Donald Trump is the first Republican to announce that he’ll be running in 2024, for the third time, and Joe Biden, although not yet officially a candidate, is crisscrossing the country touting the “successes” of his administration.
While speculation runs rampant about which other Republicans might step forward to challenge Trump, a Democrat-aligned think tank is gaming out a peculiar option that would see an unlikely third-party ticket form with both a Republican and a Democrat on the ticket. This scenario is being put forth by Third Way, a liberal organization “that champions modern center-left ideas.” Details were shared with Axios writer Alexi McCammond, who notes that Democrats are “alarmed by 2024 bipartisan spoilers.” Per McCammond:
- The report details epic failures from past political efforts and warns about the unique dangers of an emerging outsider candidate.
- “If a third-party candidate blew past historic precedent and managed to win enough Electoral Votes to keep any candidate from getting to 270, then the outcome would be decided in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans and where Donald Trump would prevail,” the report says.
Third Way argues that a third-party ticket, one that would not have “R” or “D” by the candidates’ names, would pull votes away from the party that currently holds the White House. Furthermore, they note, both parties are deeply unpopular with a dissatisfied electorate, who many just find a bi-partisan/non-partisan ticket attractive. History, however, hasn’t been kind to these kinds of challenges.
History indicates that third-party candidates do not win presidential elections, despite often showing promise early on. Every presidential election cycle includes third-party candidates, some major and some minor. Without exception they consistently underperform expectations and do not come close to winning.
What would be different about a third-party challenge in 2024? Presuming Trump will be the GOP nominee, which certainly isn’t a given, Third Way’s analysis shows his voters are “stickier,” meaning they’ll stick with him no matter what. Biden’s voters are, in Third Way’s view, much more likely to jump ship and support a third-party candidate. If enough of those non-sticky Biden voters — and disgusted independents — break for an upstart non-partisan ticket, Biden and Democrats would be in real trouble.
Some other notes from Axios:
- In 2020, a third presidential option wasn’t present in the same way as ’16, helping Joe Biden best Hillary Clinton’s numbers in battleground states.
- Democrats improved their vote share from that cycle in Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin amid decreased support for outside candidates.
- Voters who say they don’t like either party’s presidential nominee tend to lean Democratic — “ideal targets for a credible third-party candidate,” said Aliza Astrow, the Third Way senior political analyst who authored the report.
Of course, this scenario would hold true for whichever Republican wins the ticket; Third Way is only inserting Donald Trump’s name because they know he’s the one person who’ll grab attention. The mere inference that Donald Trump could be reinstalled in the White House, no matter how far-fetched the idea, is enough to set the left’s hair on fire.
Democrats may just have something to fear with this bizarre scenario. As Axios notes, the bipartisan group No Labels is looking to raise millions in support of viable third-party option in 2024 — and they are open to running a ticket in direct opposition to Joe Biden. Ryan Clancy, a spokesperson for No Labels, told Axios, “Our citizen leaders from around the nation have no interest in fueling a spoiler. But if the public urgently wants and needs another choice, we’ll make sure they have it.”