It’s Time to Label ‘No Labels’ as a Vote for Trump

by Tom Rogers

Many pollsters believe that former President Donald Trump, for all the enthusiasm he garners among his base, has a ceiling of 47 percent of the popular vote, even in swing states. Thus, even though President Joe Biden‘s poll numbers fluctuate, in a one-on-one race, the reasoning goes, that Biden can again squeak by and be re-elected. However, the odds are very small this will solely be a Biden versus Trump race.

With more than 70 percent of the electorate preferring that the two major-party candidates hadn’t run again, there is going to be increasing focus on third-party options. Now that No Labels has decided it will put forward a moderate “unity ticket,” consisting of a Republican presidential candidate and a Democratic vice-presidential candidate, it is very clear independent candidacies will play a crucial role in the 2024 election.

To date, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.‘s presidential bid has gotten the bulk of the attention, but it is far from certain that he will be able to get on most state ballots. While there is a substantial super PAC that is promoting his candidacy, it would be a violation of election law for that PAC to fund any ballot access initiative. That would mean RFK Jr.’s. campaign would have to drive that effort—a campaign which many do not believe is sufficiently organized to accomplish the task. Negotiations to become the Libertarian Party candidate—with access to the ballot in all 50 states—have been unsuccessful thus far.

However, recent reports, if true, that RFK Jr. will choose Nicole Shanahan, former wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, as his running mate should cure any funding needs he would have to get on state ballots. Purportedly Shanahan funded RFK Jr.’s Super Bowl ad.

The No Labels “unity ticket” effort will receive much more attention now that the group has decided to go forward. That both Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Larry Hogan, the former Republican governor of Maryland, have declined to be part of the No Labels ticket is seen as evidence prominent members of the No Labels effort now believe it will only aid Trump’s reelection.

Some analysts point to the fact that No Labels only has a ballot line for the presidential election in about 14 states—despite promises to be much further along by now—as an indication the effort is stalling. Of the six key swing states that will, in all likelihood, decide the upcoming election, No Labels has only gotten on the ballot in Arizona and Nevada.

Whether No Labels is trying to gain access as a new party, or simply to obtain access for its candidate, it would be necessary under laws in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan for them to announce their candidate slate before being able to submit the required number of petition signatures. That is something the group plans to do sometime over the next month, at which point it will be in a position to gain access to many more key state ballots.

The necessary number of signatures is low, ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 for to obtain party status in those states, and in some of them, even lower thresholds when seeking ballot access for an independent candidate. Overall, for what appears to be such a well-funded and organized effort, achieving the requisite level of petition signatures will not be difficult.

The Cornell West effort does not seem organized or funded sufficiently to drive a nationwide ballot access initiative. However, it seems achievable for Cornell West to create some sort of new party focused on a handful of states with low petition signature thresholds to get on the ballot.

Like with the Libertarian Party that has previously been on ballots throughout the country, the Green Party will likely support a candidate, and Jill Stein is running in that capacity again.

All this may appear to be a distraction from the main Biden versus Trump event, but as these third-party efforts materialize and are viewed by voters as true alternatives to the unpopular main party candidates, they will become the decisive factor in the election.

Why do I say that? Well, you remember Jo Jorgenson, right? What, you’ve never heard of Jo? You don’t know who he is? Actually, Jo is a she. Jo was the Libertarian Party candidate for president in 2020 and received more votes than any candidate other than Biden and Trump. In fact, in four of the six crucial swing states she received votes equal to or more than the margin of victory that Biden had over Trump.

Why do I bring that up? Because whatever happens in this election, there is one thing we can be very sure of —the margin of victory in the critical swing states will be extremely small—last time in Wisconsin it was 20,000 votes. Jo Jorgensen received almost 40,000 votes in that state. It is unclear who a Libertarian candidate—including RFK Jr. if he were to get that ballot line—pulls from more, Biden or Trump. However, it is very clear that a moderate No Labels Republican/Democratic “unity” ticket, Cornel West, and Jill Stein, drain far more votes from Biden than Trump. If a Jo Jorgensen—a third-party candidate no one has ever heard of—can pull as much as the margin of victory in four of the six swing states, better known and funded candidates are likely to pull far greater percentages of votes, and that poses an enormous threat to the Biden candidacy. It is now pretty well accepted that Hillary Clinton would have been elected president in 2016 but for the average 5 percent of the vote independent candidates received in key swing states.

The swing states provide two paths—based on Electoral College math—to the presidency for Biden. He must either win Pennsylvania, or he must win Georgia and Michigan. There are combinations of other swing states that can put him over the top depending on whether he wins Pennsylvania or the Georgia/Michigan combo. Georgia and Michigan both look less promising than in 2020, and Biden won his so-called home state of Pennsylvania by only 1 percent of the vote last time around. That tells you everything you need to know about why the president makes so many visits to Philadelphia.

It is ironic that the greatest threat of a Trump reelection is posed by those who so strongly believe they must provide an alternative to Trump. The Jo Jorgensen candidacy that almost no one had ever heard of proves that point. We may find in the six swing states that Stein, West, and No Labels don’t all get ballot access, but it is a good bet at least one or two of them will, and that is all it will take to drive a Biden defeat.

There is only one way to combat this enormous threat, short of the unlikely scenario where these third-party candidacies decide for the good of the country not to run. That is, there must be a well-funded effort to get out early and loud that a third-party vote is a vote for Donald Trump, and a vote to install an anti-democratic leader. Trump is already pulling the strings of the U.S. House of Representatives to ensure democracy is stamped out not only in the United States, but in Europe as well, with his reprehensible opposition to Ukraine funding. It is absolute lunacy for any potential candidate that No Labels seeks to anoint to accept that nomination. Let’s underscore and label this effort very clearly—a vote for No Labels is a vote for Trump.


Tom Rogers is executive chairman of Oorbit Gaming and Entertainment, an editor-at-large for Newsweek, the founder of CNBC and a CNBC contributor. He also established MSNBC, is the former CEO of TiVo, a member of Keep Our Republic (an organization dedicated to preserving the nation’s democracy). He is also a member of the American Bar Association Task Force on Democracy.


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