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Why the GOP Needs to Worry About the Group 'No Labels' Too

Jacquelyn Martin

The conventional wisdom in Washington is that a presidential candidate fielded by the group “No Labels” would take enough votes from Joe Biden to hand the race to Donald Trump.

Democratic moderate and liberal groups wrote an op-ed in April denouncing No Labels, calling any effort to run a candidate in the presidential race a “dangerous” gambit that “could help elect a MAGA extremist.”

This conventional wisdom is based on the usual notion that the entrance of third-party candidates into the race favors Republicans because “moderate” candidates attract more Democrats than Republicans. But what if, this time, it was different? What would happen if the call for a genuine, viable third-party candidate is so strong that the right No Labels ticket actually challenges for the presidency?

As a rationalist, I know this possibility is remote and extremely unlikely. Nevertheless, the stars are beginning to align, which could lead to a significant shakeup in our politics.

A HarrisX poll for No Labels surveyed more than 26,000 registered voters in 50 states and found that 69 percent don’t want Biden to run again and 62 percent don’t want Trump to run again. This is an unprecedented situation

Washington Post:

If the system produces a Trump-Biden rematch anyway — as seems increasingly likely — then Republicans and Democrats who don’t like their choices have no safe harbor on the other side. Most Republicans won’t pull the lever for Biden, whom they consider the most catastrophic president since Jimmy Carter. And most Democrats certainly won’t vote for Trump, who they say belongs in prison rather thanthe Oval Office. If you think Biden is incompetent and Trump is unfit — as millions do — you have nowhere to go.

Enter No Labels, which says it could offer these voters the safe harbor they are longing for. A whopping 59 percent of respondents told HarrisX that, if faced with a Trump-Biden rematch, they would consider a moderate independent ticket — including 59 percent of Democrats, 53 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents. In other words, No Labels starts out with a ceiling of potential bipartisan support more than 20 points higher than the ceiling for Ross Perot in 1992, who never polled higher than 38 percent.

All those numbers are too high to be accepted. More than half of Republicans wouldn’t support West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who is prominently mentioned by No Labels PR flaks as a serious potential presidential candidate on their ticket. Nor would 59% of Democrats support Manchin or the other politician mentioned, Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

Without actual names and personalities for No Labels to present to the voter, the poll is a useless exercise. And even if they were to choose well-known candidates to fill those slots, they would be stymied by the one issue that 8 in 10 Republicans agree on: abortion.

Republicans will not accept a pro-choice candidate for president or vice president — at least enough Republicans would refuse to support a pro-choice candidate to prevent a No Labels outright victory. Similarly, Democrats would never accept a pro-life candidate.

So is No Labels is back at square one? Not exactly. There’s that strong desire on the part of the electorate for “none of the above,” and No Labels is well positioned to exploit that feeling.

If it nominates Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) for president, a possibility Manchin does not discount — and then selects a Republican of similar stature as his running mate — No Labels could put forward the first serious, credible third-party ticket in modern times. Unlike Evan McMullin, Jill Stein or even Perot, Manchin is a sitting senator and former governor with a national profile and record of accomplishment. In different times, he could credibly be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

Manchin could never be elected outright to the presidency. There are just too many deep blue states and deep red states for him to hit 270 electoral votes.

But the goal here isn’t to get Manchin elected; it is to deny Donald Trump a win. If that happens, it’s possible that the only way Joe Biden gets re-elected is if the race goes to the House of Representatives. And that’s where old-fashioned wheeling and dealing could make No Labels a kingmaker — or perhaps even king.

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