By Reed Galen
No Labels, a secretive DC-based, dark money-funded organization, is attempting to put a third-party candidate on the presidential ballot in 2024. Despite their best efforts to obscure their real intentions, No Labels’ actions are designed to support Donald Trump’s reelection next year. When pressed, No Labels’ leaders are short on answers and long on gibberish.
The initial conceit of No Labels’ 2024 plan is that their ‘unity ticket’ can win 270 Electoral Votes and displace the major party nominees: President Joe Biden and Donald Trump. In fact, their own maps show they expect to win 286 EVs.
Here’s the thing: A third-party ticket can’t win the Presidency. It has never before happened in American history. Despite their protestations that they don’t need to get to 50% + 1 of voters, just to say, 35%, there is no chance of this happening.
To succeed, No Labels would need to pitch a perfect game politically. Their mystery candidate would have to win all the traditional battlegrounds as well as a number of deep blue states - including Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware. The only state No Labels could hope to win would require fracturing Biden’s support. Among Democrats, the president maintains a 77% approval rating, which makes winning Democratic states highly implausible.
That’s their plan, though. None of this is about achieving 270 Electoral Votes. It is a $70 million (to start) operation to ensure Joe Biden is a one-term president.
FiveThirtyEight says: “The electorate is composed of many moderates and a smaller group of independents who don’t lean toward either party. But the share of the electorate where these traits overlap is actually small… only about five percent of voters were both independent and moderate.”
Translation: There aren’t enough truly independent voters who will vote for No Labels for their candidate to win. As noted above, they don’t really care.
A No Labels, or any third party, victory would be the unlikeliest victory in American history. It would only happen by sparking a political revolution never before seen. Do Joe Manchin or Larry Hogan seem like the inspirational figures capable of pulling this off?
Though they rely on examples such as Ross Perot (who won zero Electoral Votes), there are only two candidates in the post-World War II era to garner significant Electoral Votes: Strom Thurmond in 1948 (on the Dixiecrat ticket) and George Wallace in 1968 (on the segregation platform.) Can’t imagine why they don’t use those guys more often.
Because No Labels’ honcho Nancy Jacobson knows her effort can’t win, she’s had her Chief Strategist, Ryan Clancy, suggest that No Labels plans to utilize “faithless electors” and undermine the 2024 Presidential Election within the Electoral College system by bargaining any electoral votes they may receive.
But Reed, No Labels says their polling proves that a “commonsense majority” of Americans will vote for their ticket.
Every recent poll that asks voters about a generic third party has both the idea and a named candidate losing, Including their own. “The group’s polling from December 2022, which was shared Sunday with The Washington Post, found that the unnamed “moderate independent” candidate was supported by 20 percent of registered voters, compared with 28 percent for Biden and 33 for Trump.”
So far, No Labels has refused to publicly release any polling information that supports their electoral viability or a path to 270+ electoral votes. Requests for crosstabs, polling methodology, margins of error, and state polling have been denied.
Given that No Labels’ CEO Nancy Jacobson hired her husband, Mark Penn, to conduct the group’s polling, we should expect their results to be all narrative and no data. Penn’s firm, HarrisX, has made over $400,000 creating polls for No Labels – according to their 2021 tax filing.
Those who have worked for Mark Penn have repeatedly called out his refusal to release any polling details and warned against trusting anything HarrisX releases as accurate. Despite these warnings, even such a prestigious organization as the Harvard Institute of Politics continues to employ Penn.
I spent two years in the third-party and independent political space before we launched The Lincoln Project. Each of our surveys showed the same thing: In the abstract, voters love the idea of a new party or a third option. When the time comes, and you ask them whether they’d actually pull the lever for someone with an “I” behind their name, the numbers nosedive.
But let’s say No Labels achieves the ballot access they need for a candidate to be competitive. How will they choose their unicorns? They claim they’ll have a robust, transparent, and open nominating process.
The truth is No Labels has been intentionally vague because they know their ‘delegates’ will be asked to vote on a candidate that is decided on by the No Labels nominating committee in conjunction with staff wishes. The nominating committee itself will be hand-selected by No Labels’ staff. Open! Transparent!
By design, there’s no opportunity for supporters to say who should be the nominee. This is the very definition of a smoke-filled back room with high-dollar donors and party insiders making decisions.
Neither Manchin nor Hogan nor anyone who might pick up the No Labels’ nomination has been through anything close to running for president. Primaries matter, especially in a presidential setting, because the process determines who wins as much as the candidates. Presidential campaigns are revelatory. Has No Labels figured out what to do if the Manchins and Hogans of the world, both wanting to lead this mystical ticket, start campaigning against one another?
Interesting…No Labels may get a primary whether they want one or not.
Though they bill themselves as a ‘grassroots movement,’ No Labels is little more than a cabal of ex-communicated operatives, bored politicians, and Republican donors who want to keep their taxes low. They can’t and won’t answer questions about any of their beliefs, operations, or funding because whatever they might say will either display their ill intent or their incredible naivete. Either way, if No Labels truly cared about bringing comity and bipartisanship back to America, they’d drop this charade and ensure Donald Trump never nears the White House again.
But then they’d have no reason for being.