Don’t Look Now, but the ‘No Labels’ Third Party Threat Has Democrats on Edge

While all eyes are on the chaos among the Republican Party – whether it’s people trying to figure out if they can beat Donald Trump for the nomination and how or it’s people wondering if the House GOP will actually select a Speaker – there are some little tidbits bubbling up just under the surface for the Democrats. If the reports on these developments are to be believed, the Democratic Party is fretting over threats from both their left and their right.

One area of concern in particular is the continued presence of the “No Labels” group that is flirting with fielding a third-party candidate to take on Trump and Joe Biden in 2024. Those concerns, which have been worrying the Biden team for some time, are growing as new data coming out suggests the group has a plan that could very well threaten Biden’s chances next year.

POLITICO took note of those concerns in its Morning Playbook on Tuesday:

A little-noticed slide in a polling presentation recently released by No Labels has sent panic through the ranks of top Democrats.
No Labels is the centrist political group aiming to field a third party presidential “unity ticket” in response to what it says is widespread disgust with a rematch between Trump and President JOE BIDEN. The data in the offending slide suggests that No Labels’ best shot at influencing the general election is by fielding a Republican at the top of its ticket and focusing their efforts on the eight likely swing states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
According to their polling, under this scenario the only clear shot for a Biden win in those eight states would be in Pennsylvania.
The folks at Third Way, a Democratic group that has become a clearinghouse of anti-No Labels research, is flagging this development as a “dramatic shift in strategy.”

As POLITICO notes, there is one slide in particular from the No Labels presentation that is freaking the Democrats out. It’s the slide that essentially validates how weak Joe Biden is in swing states.

There are a lot of interesting data just in this little graphic, but what’s clear is that No Labels can see what a lot of others are seeing right now: Joe Biden is extremely vulnerable, and voters are looking to swing back to a Republican in the White House. If No Labels recruits a Democrat, it pulls enough of the Democrat vote away from Biden that Trump wins big in swing states. If they recruit a Republican it pulls enough Republicans away from Trump to give their candidate an advantage. The only state that seems solidly in Biden’s camp in most scenarios is Pennsylvania and Nevada is leaning more independent than anything.

None of that is good news for Joe Biden. As his support wanes – and it has plenty of reason to, between the economy, immigration, crime, and other top issues – Republicans are in a good position to win back the White House. But voters are extremely nervous about a rematch between Trump and Biden, and their willingness to look at a third-party candidate should worry both parties.

But look at the difference between the people who don’t want Biden to run as opposed to the people who don’t want Trump to run. 72 percent of voters don’t want a rematch between the two, but more people are eager to replace Biden than Trump – by 9 points. That implies a sense from voters that Biden is doing a terrible job and/or is too weak to continue doing the job. Whether its his age or him being compromised by his son in Hunter’s growing scandal, people are hesitant to want Biden to run again.

And even if that’s because they want to keep Trump from winning, it’s a terrible sign for Biden. That means his voters aren’t motivated for him, which will depress his turnout next year. If it’s him vs. Trump, Trump has the advantage. 

The challenge for ‘No Labels’ in all this, then, is finding a Republican who can get enough votes from both sides of the aisle. Liz Cheney has teased a run, but it’s difficult to imagine Democrats voting for a Cheney and Republicans voting for someone who couldn’t win her own state. Larry Hogan has also teased a run, but… no.

I hesitate to say that to say that No Labels doesn’t have a chance. Their data suggests they do, and the growing discontent among voters with the current parties can’t be ignored. But third-party campaigns struggle historically with ballot access and voter support. It is far more likely that a third-party bid will hurt either Trump or Biden (or both), but this data suggests that, in a Trump vs. Biden re-match, Trump stands to win if No Labels does field a candidate.

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