The more than 100 former GOP politicians and officials who signed a letter demanding that Republicans disavow Donald Trump are also threatening to throw a tantrum and start a new party.
Democrats — who also believe Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is “mainstream” — are drooling in anticipation. They believe a third party made up of former Bush-era officials and politicians would attract millions of Republicans who have been trapped into supporting Donald Trump and are looking for a way out.
That’s what they truly believe. They think there is a sizable number of GOP voters who would jump at the chance to vote for moderate or centrist candidates and escape the clutches of the evil Trump.
The Republican Party has largely been purged of “moderates” and “centrists” — a process that’s been ongoing since before George Bush became president. There are a few holdouts, but you can count them on the fingers of two hands. And they are painfully out of step with the rest of the GOP.
Today, they find themselves out of power and out of step with the broader Republican electorate. Polls show Trump remains a popular figure among Republicans. More importantly, many of the issue stances that these Republicans planning to leave the party continue to tout, such as encouraging immigration and global trade, are not shared by majorities of Republican voters. Republican dissidents may cite Trump’s character as their motivation for wanting to leave, but many are also closer on key policy issues to President Biden and his wing of the Democratic Party than they are to the GOP mainstream.
To say the dissidents are in the wrong party would be stating the obvious. But Trump got 90 percent of the GOP vote in 2020, so there just aren’t that many bodies to fill up a room at a third-party convention.
This is why any third-party effort would likely not attract many current Republicans. Even Republicans who share these views are deathly afraid of Democrats and their agenda. Third parties in the United States often attract higher levels of support early in a campaign only to lose most of those voters as they realize that their preferred candidate won’t win. There aren’t enough dissatisfied, anti-Trump Republicans to mount credible challenges in safe GOP and winnable states and seats. Ambitious Republican politicians and large donors want to be winners, not spoilers.
Yes, but elections in recent cycles have been incredibly close. Even just a few Republican deserters could tip the balance away from the GOP to the Democrats. But before they condemn the Republican Party to oblivion, Democrats might want to look to their own. There would probably be more Democrat defectors than Republicans.
Democrats attracted the lion’s share of voters who fit this group’s issue stance and demographics. Indeed, five of the eight people mentioned as potential signatories on this letter publicly announced they would vote for Biden last year, and surely others followed George W. Bush’s example of writing in a candidate or voting for Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgensen. Such voters also backed Democrats in the key Arizona and Georgia Senate races and many House races. These people would surely be more comfortable in this new party than in a Democratic Party that increasingly moves leftward on economics and culture. A new party that stands for the 2004-era Bush Republican principles may draw more voters from Democratic ranks than from Republicans. (Author’s emphasis)
In truth, as with every third-party effort, there will be a lot of excitement and energy and brass bands, and glowing media coverage. But then comes the nitty-gritty of politics — raising money, getting candidates on the ballot, and figuring out exactly what you stand for.
Each modern third party has failed for two major reasons: 1) the system is rigged against them, and 2) American voters like the two-party system just fine and don’t see any compelling reason to change that.
Democrats will believe that a third party would spell the GOP’s doom at their own peril.