Historically, third-party candidates have not fared well in the last century
While DeSantis and others are pounding the pavement in Iowa and New Hampshire, a group calling itself No Labels held its maiden town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire. No Labels bills itself as a bipartisan “national movement of commonsense Americans pushing our leaders together to solve our country’s biggest problems.”
The group has some headline backers, including former Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Maryland’s former governor Larry Hogan.
No Labels is considering putting up a third-party candidate for president. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr., a Republican, who both attended the town hall, are two names that have been bandied about.
But historically, third-party candidates have not fared well in the last century. Teddy Roosevelt won 88 electoral votes as a third-party candidate in 1912, but he had already served as a two-term president from 1901 to 1909 and was a known commodity.
Former Alabama governor George Wallace won five states and 46 Electoral Votes in 1968, but he was a firebrand who drew support from the dying embers of Southern segregationists. In 1992, high-tech magnate H. Ross Perot won almost 19% of the popular vote in a three-way contest between Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, running on a platform that America needed a businessman in the White House.
No Labels is starting behind the eight ball.
For now, the group only plans to put up a candidate after the Super Tuesday primaries in March, and only to prevent a dreaded Trump-Biden rematch. By then, it could be too late to place their candidate on the ballots of all 50 states or to raise the necessary campaign funds.
Manchin has earned a reputation for being independent-minded, showing no fear in opposing President Biden, but as of now, he hasn’t decided whether to run for re-election in West Virginia, where he trails his most likely Republican challenger by more than 20 points.
Jon Huntsman Jr. is a career diplomat who served in every presidential administration since Ronald Reagan (except for the Biden administration). His only foray into national politics was a third-place finish in the 2012 Republican primary in New Hampshire, after which he dropped out of the race.
Americans may be tired of political paralysis, but a Gallup Poll survey taken at the end of 2022 shows that while 41% of voters call themselves political independents, some 89% reported they either identify politically as Democrats or Republicans, or lean toward one of those two parties.
The burden of proof is on No Labels to show that they can rally independents behind an amorphous No Label party, and they would certainly need candidates far more inspiring than Manchin or Huntsman.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 971)
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