How Serious of a Threat is a No Labels Candidate?
The panic continues. Is it warranted?
So, WaPo has a column this morning in what seems to be an ongoing panic about a possible No Labels candidate for office: A No Labels candidate would likely throw the election to Trump. I noted a similar piece from the Bulwark in March and have seen several other iterations since then.
The basic thesis is as follows:
But a third-party candidate dramatically changes the equation. If he or she takes even a small part of the anti-Trump vote away from Biden, Trump is likely to be returned to the White House. That’s why the No Labels effort poses such a danger to our democracy.
The problem with this assertion is that it is not necessarily true. Now, I am not saying it isn’t true, either. Moreover, I understand the concern. But without knowing key pieces of information like who this candidate would be and how much money No Labels would be able to spend on that candidate, it is really hard to judge the impact an NL candidate would have, even as a matter of a speculative conversation (which is all we have here).
So, yes, this is a real concern:
In the five states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — most likely to decide the 2024 election in the electoral college, the numbers tell the story. Together, they have 73 electoral votes. In 2016, Trump narrowly won all of them. In 2020, Biden did.
In all five of these swing states, Biden’s razor-thin margins came from a massive anti-Trump vote. In all of them, at least 1 in 3 Biden voters said they voted mainly against Trump; in Wisconsin, that number was 38 percent; in Arizona (where No Labels has already secured a spot on the 2024 ballot) a whopping 45 percent.
FWIW, the Liberatarian candidate won 1.2% of the vote for president in Georgia in 2020 (the number was 1.5% in AZ). Would an NL candidate draw more? Less? The same? What would have happened in 2020 if the Libertarian hadn’t run? Would that have helped Trump or Biden? Would the NL candidate mostly steal from the Libertarians?
More to the point, we really don’t know from whence an NL candidate’s vote would come, and in what proportion. It is not out of the question that an NL candidate could help Biden as some GOP voters who simply won’t pull the lever for a Democrat might vote for some hypothetical NL person.
But, to the point of this post, we don’t even know who the candidate will be.
So look, I get it. The possibility of Trump back in the White House is pretty horrifying, and gets moreso on the daily. But the panic over a NL candidate seems a be overwrought to me and is based on a slew of assumptions.
Obligatory note: No Labels is a label.