Why A Third-Party Candidate Might Help Trump — And Spoil The Election For Biden

We don’t need to have a conversation about a third-party spoiler candidate affecting the 2024 presidential election, as two alternatives to former President Donald Trump and President Biden have already emerged, with the prospect of a rematch between them. The organization No Labels is working towards fielding a centrist presidential ticket, while West Cornel, a well-known progressive political and intellectual figure, has launched a bid for the Green nomination.

Are we aware of the circumstances in which third-party bids are transformed into spoiler campaigns? Democrats are concerned that Trump’s likelihood of winning, thus increasing his chances of winning, may attract support from voters who would otherwise support Biden against Trump. These endeavors are causing Democrats to worry that both bids may attract support from voters who would otherwise support Biden against Trump.

In our deeply divided political era, the norm has been that a candidacy spoiler makes the possibility of close elections a reality. Although it is a different question altogether, common sense and historical evidence suggest that these possible third-party candidates could indeed affect the overall race if it were close. This implies that a potential spoiler could actually make a difference in shifting support towards Trump or Biden subtly. Furthermore, it suggests that a rematch between Biden and Trump could result in a marginal pull of support from West and/or No Labels campaign.

Since late May, five surveys have tested potential nominees for the Green Party ticket, with no labels added for West’s candidacy or hypothetical labels added for West. In each head-to-head matchup poll, either Biden held a small lead over Trump or the two were tied. But when pollsters added labels, either Trump held a small lead over Biden or the two were tied. Larry Hogan, the former Republican governor of Maryland, gained little ground and Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator of West Virginia, gained a little ground in the hypothetical matchup.

The survey from Emerson College and Echelon Insights showed that Trump is gaining more support among independents, while Biden’s support is mainly coming from progressive Democrats. Meanwhile, a separate survey from Insights Echelon and Emerson College found that Trump is also gaining more support from Republicans, while Democrats are shifting towards Manchin’s selection. These surveys indicate a possible reduction in Biden’s advantage and a benefit for Trump. Polls examining Hogan’s possible impact were inconsistent, with shifts in preferences among independents. Democrats tended to hold onto Biden, although Trump polls showed a small margin shift towards him when a third-party option was included. These surveys offer different explanations for the shifts.

We cannot assume that a Green Party voter would say that a Republican or Democrat vote would be a vote for Libertarian or a back voter. Finally, every third-party voter would vote for their preferred candidate if they didn’t run for Republican or Democrat, and yet millions of dollars have not been spent on advertising in the general election. The stakes of the election are lower when Election Day is farther away, so candidates often poll better in third-party candidates. Additionally, historically, surveys have had little predictive value overall, and the error margins are larger for subgroups within the survey. When trying to analyze movements within each poll, it is also important to consider that small overall movements are being talked about. Now, we should be cautious about reading too much into these surveys.

According to historical records, there is ample evidence to indicate that the 2024 election will be closely contested. Our society is currently characterized by intense division, with the country being evenly split. In fact, five out of the last six presidential elections had a national popular vote margin of less than 5 points. Considering the recent trend of close elections, a slight shift of 1 to 2 points in favor of the GOP could have resulted in Trump winning through electoral votes in key states such as Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. These states were all decided by margins of less than 1.2 points. While it is impossible to predict the exact outcome of a national swing towards the right, the hypothetical scenario of the 2020 election demonstrates that Biden won the national popular vote by approximately 4.5 percentage points, but only carried Wisconsin by a margin of less than 1 point. This state played a crucial role in securing his victory in the Electoral College. Nonetheless, these early polls illustrate how the presence of a third-party candidate could impact the election and potentially give Trump an advantage in a rematch against Biden.

No Labels rejects a claim that their presidential campaign is aimed at helping Trump win, whether knowingly or not. Accusations have been made that the group’s campaign is a vehicle for Trump’s benefit. Additionally, No Labels has faced criticism for its connections to certain GOP donors, as these connections may potentially benefit Trump. Moderate Democrats, including Third Way, have also voiced concerns about No Labels’ efforts, suggesting that they might potentially help Trump. In particular, No Labels has become entangled in discussions about whether to adopt an unambiguously progressive platform or a bipartisan, centrist approach. The major parties are seen as not providing voters with what they want, whereas No Labels aims to offer an alternative. It is believed that their presence in an election could have an impact. It is worth noting that third-party campaigns do not necessarily have to consider the consequences.

In an interview with Chief Strategist Ryan Clancy, he pushed back against the notion that a candidate who is not going to win is a spoiler. He argued that in most presidential elections, it is a rarity to have a truly viable third option that can attract voters from both major parties. Clancy cited Ross Perot’s campaign in 1992 as a precedent, where he appealed broadly to the electorate and suggested that one-fifth of voters would have voted for a third party or a different party altogether. Exit polls indicated that the voters were evenly split between Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush, with Perot offering a viable third option. Unlike that, Clancy said that a candidate mostly pulling from the left, like the Green Party candidate, would not be seen as a spoiler.

West did not reply to a request for commentary.

Clancy stated that if their offer is not accepted, there is an absolute outcome where we cannot win the ticket. In that case, it would be advisable to have a warning label that says “no sign” so that voters can be aware. However, if the support ceiling decreases significantly in the next six to nine months, it is possible to obtain 270 electoral votes and win over the universe of voters. If this happens, it would be wise to consider backing a “moderate independent” candidate who can win over 5 out of 3 voters in the universe. Clancy explained that this is the initial polling result for the group in December.

He easily won the election, but it is likely that the outcome would have been different if he didn’t “spoil” it for Carter. According to an ABC News exit poll, Anderson’s supporters suggested that he would have split the votes, with 38 percent going to Carter and 49 percent going to Reagan. It is possible that Anderson’s victory in some Northeastern states may have cost Carter the election. Nationally, Anderson won roughly 7 percent of the votes, which was enough to tip the scales in Reagan’s favor over the incumbent Democratic candidate, Jimmy Carter. In the 1980 election, it was not guaranteed that the same percentage of votes would be taken by each major party. A potential centrist ticket, such as Perot, was pointed out as an example. It is understandable that there are no labels attached to this scenario.

In tight elections, two other third-party candidates from the past six decades also garnered a disproportionate portion of voters who may have otherwise supported one of the major parties. In Florida, a study estimated that around 60 percent of the nearly 100,000 voters who chose the Green Party nominee Ralph Nader might have favored Democrat Al Gore over Republican George W. Bush in the highly contested 2000 election. This could have potentially changed the outcome of the election, shifting the decisive state and the overall result from Bush to Gore. Republican Richard Nixon emerged victorious in 1968, narrowly surpassing Democrat Hubert Humphrey by less than 1 percentage point in the popular vote. Independent segregationist George Wallace secured approximately 14 percent of the national vote and carried five Southern states. However, Nixon’s victory might have been more comfortable if Wallace had not run, as pre-election polling by Gallup showed that voters who supported Wallace strongly preferred Nixon over Humphrey.

Can they certainly disrupt the 2024 competition? However, the extent to which third parties may disrupt the 2024 competition is still unknown and will only become clearer in the coming months. According to a May survey conducted by Ipsos/Reuters, if former President Trump were to run as a third-party candidate and divide the Republican vote, President Biden would have a favorable position to easily defeat Florida Governor Ron DeSantis if he were to secure the GOP nomination. Naturally, there are other potential scenarios that could significantly change the electoral landscape. Early 2024 polls suggest that in a closely contested election, third-party campaigns from the center and left could potentially aid Trump against Biden.