- Multiple third-party candidates could sway the 2024 presidential election in key battleground states if there’s a rematch between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, political observers and polling analysts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- Green Party candidate Cornel West, a Libertarian Party candidate, a No Labels candidate and likely Robert F. Kennedy Jr. could all be on the ballot in 2024, which could siphon off more support from Biden than Trump, polling analysts and political strategists told the DCNF.
- “I can imagine a world in which we have two, three, four legitimate third parties, and unlike usual, all in they’ll get 1%, 2%, they might get 5% or 6% — and that, without a doubt, is going to be the most important element of this election,” Mike McKenna, GOP consultant and president of MWR Strategies, told the DCNF.
With another close presidential election expected in 2024, third parties are likely to impact the general election in key battleground states if there’s a rematch between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, polling analysts and political observers told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Multiple third-party candidates could be on the ballot in 2024, including a Green Party candidate, a No Labels candidate, a Libertarian Party candidate and likely Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as an independent. Several polling analysts and political strategists believe that the additional third-party candidates will likely siphon off more support from Biden, which could allow Trump to return to the White House in 2024, they told the DCNF.
“If there is a rematch between Biden and Trump, there are going to be a significant number of voters who hold negative views of both candidates, given that both have favorability numbers only around 40% and unfavourability over 50%. Those are conditions ripe for heightened third-party voting,” Kyle Kondik, nonpartisan polling analyst and managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, told the DCNF. “I wouldn’t expect the third-party vote to be all that large, but the margins in key states are likely to be so small that the third-party candidates could end up playing spoiler.”
Cornel West is running for the Green Party nomination, many are running for the Libertarian Party nomination and centrist organization No Labels is considering running a third-party ticket in 2024, with West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin often mentioned as a potential contender. Kennedy, who is currently seeking the Democratic Party nomination, is expected to switch his party affiliation to run as an independent in Philadelphia on Oct. 9.
Many attribute Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016 to Green Party candidate Jill Stein, arguing if Stein’s votes went to Clinton, Trump wouldn’t have won. Some have signaled a similar phenomenon is likely to play out in 2024, but at a larger scale with the potential for more third-party candidates on the ballot, they told the DCNF.
“Jill Stein did win enough votes to tip Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to President Trump…third parties have a long history of spoiling,” Bruce Mehlman, political analyst and founder of Mehlman Consulting, told the DCNF. “The calculus by most observers appears to be that while Joe Biden has a slightly higher ceiling than Donald Trump, he also has a lower floor than Donald Trump. And the fear among Democrats is that a third party will take more voters from Biden than they will take from Trump.”
Mike McKenna, GOP consultant and president of MWR Strategies, echoed Mehlman’s sentiment, and told the DCNF the “fundamental reason” Clinton lost was due to Stein’s candidacy.
“The election in 2024 looks remarkably similar, with one important exception, and that is 70% of the voters don’t want either of these guys to run,” said McKenna. “I can imagine a world in which we have two, three, four legitimate third parties, and unlike usual, all in they’ll get 1%, 2%, they might get 5% or 6% — and that, without a doubt, is going to be the most important element of this election.”
McKenna added that because Biden’s support is “much softer” than Trump’s, these third-party candidates will likely take more of the president’s votes away, which is key in battleground states that could come down to a few thousand votes.
An Emerson College survey released in early August indicated that Trump and Biden were tied for a head-to-head matchup in the battleground state of Michigan. With West in the mix, Trump would beat Biden by 2 points, followed by the Green Party candidate at 4%, according to the poll.
Since the election will likely be “incredibly close,” a third-party candidate could win enough votes in a swing state to sway the election, said Mehlman. If 2024 isn’t a rematch between Trump and Biden, McKenna and Melhman don’t think third parties will have as much of an effect, as there will be “less of a desire for change” among voters, said Melhman.
A majority of voters in eight battleground states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — don’t want either Trump or Biden to run for another term, according to a No Labels/HarrisX survey. The poll suggested that 63% of voters would “consider voting for a moderate or independent candidate” if there’s a rematch between Trump and Biden.
The RealClearPolitics (RCP) average for a 2024 national Republican and Democratic primary, based on the most recent polling, indicates Trump and Biden are leading their respective fields by 42 points and 50 points, respectively. Trump is currently winning against Biden by 1.3 points in a general election matchup, according to the RCP average.
The Green Party has ballot access in 17 states and Washington, D.C., according to its website. No Labels has secured ballot access in ten states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, South Dakota, Nevada and Florida — and is planning to get to 28 states by the end of the year.
John McLaughlin, CEO and partner of McLaughlin & Associates, a polling firm that works closely with the Trump campaign, told the DCNF that Democrats are concerned that voting for a third-party candidate is “a vote for Trump.”
“They know Trump’s base is like very, very solid — much more so than Biden’s. And most of the votes that go for these independents are pulled from Joe Biden, not from Donald Trump, and Trump’s already ahead,” said McLaughlin, referring to a survey he shared with the DCNF that has Trump leading Biden by 4 points.
In a three-way general election matchup between Trump, Biden and West, the former president secured 43% of the vote, followed by Biden at 38% and West at 6%, according to the poll conducted between Sept. 22 and Sept. 26. In a four-way race with Manchin as the No Labels’ candidate, Trump led with 40%, and Biden garnered 36%, Manchin received 6% and West had 4%.
“Polling generally suggests that Biden is a little bit more hurt than third parties than Trump, but that’s not automatically how it would have to end up,” said Kondik.
Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, isn’t convinced third parties will advantage one party over the other in 2024, he told the DCNF.
“I could see, depending on who No Labels nominates, that being sort of a safety valve for some, probably not Republicans, but at least sort of conservative-leaning independents, who just can’t pull the trigger for Biden again, but they’re also like, ‘you know what, I sort of think Trump committed treason, and, you know, maybe by that point he’s found guilty on a felony charge or five,’” said McHenry. “So I think it could affect, assuming Trump is the nominee, Trump as much as it affects Biden.”
Trump, Biden, West, Kennedy, Manchin, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party and No Labels did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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