April 8, 2024

No Labels

The No Labels group said Thursday it will not field a presidential candidate in November after strategists for the bipartisan organization failed to attract a high-profile centrist willing to seize on the widespread dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden and Donald Trump.” AP News

Both sides argue that a No Labels candidate never had a realistic chance of winning the election:

“American voters are not just polarized — they have grown further apart ideologically. In 1994, according to Gallup surveys, 25 percent of Democrats identified themselves as liberal, equal to the percentage who called themselves conservative. By 2021, the percentage of liberals had doubled to 50 percent of Democrats while the percentage of conservatives was cut in half to 12 percent. The pattern is similar, if in the opposite direction, in the Republican Party…

“[In addition] many who call themselves independent actually lean toward one party or the other and vote loyally as a result — 81 percent, according to a 2019 Pew Research study… That is hardly a broad or stable foundation upon which to build a centrist movement. For all the hunger for a better kind of politics, public attitudes suggest the contrary.”

Dan Balz, Washington Post

“Everyone loves the idea of a third party in the abstract, when they’re free to ascribe their own pet policy preferences to it. But once a candidate is chosen and proposes a platform of his or her own, making the choice before voters concrete, the romance is troubled. That platform will inevitably prove unacceptably right-wing to some left-leaning voters and unacceptably left-wing to some right-leaning ones. There’s nowhere to go in polling but down…

“Most centrist voters, offered a centrist third-party alternative, will ultimately talk themselves into sticking with the two major parties for strategic reasons. It’s the fringers who feel they have nothing to gain or lose by sustaining the two-party duopoly who are most willing to consider wasting their vote on a protest candidate. That made No Labels’ prospects for success bleak.”

Nick Catoggio, The Dispatch

Other opinions below.

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From the Left

“Trump can’t get above about 47 percent of the vote, so he can win only with the help of third parties, as he did in 2016. In 2020, when third parties were gone, he lost. This cycle, third parties help Trump the same way. He’s got a low ceiling but a solid floor — his voters don’t leave him… [Biden’s] floor is softer, and a small but meaningful group of voters who pollsters call the ‘double haters’ might choose a third party if available…

“For people claiming to represent the center of the political spectrum, the pro-democracy center-left Biden is far and away the best choice… The experience of other democracies under siege tells us that anti-authoritarian forces must stick together despite some policy differences if we are to defeat authoritarian strongmen (e.g., Brazil, Poland). Without a No Labels ticket, Biden and democracy stand a better chance of prevailing in November.”

Matt Bennett, Washington Post

No Labels should fold. This organization has a sad and decrepit legacy of timidity and corruption, and as Meredith Shiner reported in 2014, it isn’t even sincere in its core beliefs: Internal documents revealed that its leadership was ‘banking on more political dysfunction in an attempt to find ‘opportunity’ and relevance for itself.’ And let’s face it: The day the organization handed Trump its ‘problem solver’ endorsement during the 2016 presidential primaries should have marked the end of taking it seriously…

“Alas, two presidential cycles later, these lowlifes’ grift persists. But now that their ‘unity ticket’ plan to doom the republic has come to naught, all of the people who’ve hitherto been fleeced by them, financially or ideologically, should wise up and pull the plug. The rest of us can only be grateful that No Labels’ last hurrah—much like all of their grand designs—foundered without bringing ruin to us all.”

Jason Linkins, New Republic

From the Right

“There are a lot of Republicans who believe that a centrist Republican is just a Democrat in disguise

“It probably doesn’t help that the highest-profile precursor to this effort was the 2016 independent campaign by Evan McMullin, who was an absolute unknown when he began his presidential campaign that cycle, and who grew less and less conservative with each passing year afterward…  

“By 2022, as an ‘independent’ Senate candidate in Utah who had been effectively endorsed by the Utah Democratic Party, McMullin opposed the overturning of Roe v. Wade, supported no federal restrictions on abortion, supported gun control, opposed the filibuster, supported teaching critical race theory in schools, and said he ‘would probably have supported Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.’”

Jim Geraghty, National Review

“Successful political movements tend to rally voters to some specific issue or cause, and it was never clear what a No Labels agenda would look like. Immigration is one place that Republicans and Democrats are doing damage by refusing to compromise. But splitting the difference on everything isn’t a galvanizing message. The left wants higher taxes. The right wants lower taxes. Would a No Labels nominee pledge to keep taxes the same?…

“The public is left with an unappealing choice. Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump are in a codependent political relationship. Each imagines that he’s the only candidate who can defeat the other, when the truth is that each is being propped up by the other’s flaws…

“It’s going to be a mean and ugly campaign, and a perilous four years of high polarization, no matter who wins. On the bright side, at least the winner can only serve one more term.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

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