“Playbook: Dems fret about a No Labels spoiler ticket”


A prominent Democratic think tank is raising alarms about a third-party ticket spoiling 2024 for Democrats and landing DONALD TRUMP back in the White House.

A new two-page memo from Third Way, obtained by Playbook, takes aim at the potential “unity ticket” being promoted by the centrist group No Labels. With tens of millions of dollars in financial backing, No Labels’ stated intention is to nominate a moderate alternative to potential extreme major-party nominees as an “insurance policy.”

But Third Way notes that No Labels has been cagey about what scenario would prompt it to move forward, including whether it would stand down if President JOE BIDEN seeks reelection. In any case, the memo argues, a third-party ticket would mainly peel off Democrats, ultimately boosting the former president who tried to steal an election and incited a riot on the Capitol.

“[T[he conclusion is inescapable: No Labels is committed to fielding a candidate that will, intentionally or not, provide a crucial boost to Republicans — and a major obstacle to Biden,” they write. “As a result, they’ll make it far more likely — if not certain — that Donald Trump returns to the White House.” Read the memo

RISING DEM ANXIETY — Worries about a potential 2024 spoiler ticket have been percolating among Democrats for months, ever since news of No Labels’ $70 million fundraising goal trickled out last year. But in recent weeks, that anxiety has been heightened as the group — even amid internal turmoil — has put hundreds of petition circulators on the ground nationwide in a bid to win ballot access in key swing states that, in some cases, were decided by a few percentage points or less.

“Definitely people are thinking about how to prevent that nightmare scenario,” said a national Democratic strategist not affiliated with Third Way who described “agita” among party operatives. “No one knows how real it is yet, though.”

Third Way’s memo is aimed at surfacing those worries and making a data-driven case for the danger a third-party ticket poses to Democrats. It follows a CNN op-ed last week from veteran strategist PAUL BEGALA, who cited a previous Third Way analysis in claiming “the vast majority of votes that a No Labels presidential candidate would receive would likely come out of President Joe Biden’s pool of potential voters, not former President Donald Trump’s.”

The new memo notes that third-party voters from 2016 backed Biden by 30 points in 2020, a crucial bloc in helping the former vice president oust Trump. And voters who said they don’t like either party — what Third Way calls “double haters” — backed Biden by 15 points after HILLARY CLINTON had lost the same group by 17 points four years earlier.

Third Way also argues that No Labels is targeting Democratic voters “by their own admission,” citing an electoral map the group has circulated showing a unity ticket’s path to victory — winning two-thirds of their electoral votes in states Biden won in 2020, including such Democratic strongholds as Illinois, Washington and Biden’s home state of Delaware.

And a No Labels ticket would not have to be especially successful to spoil a Democratic win, the memo points out: Biden won six of the seven most competitive states by three points or fewer. As such, it argues, “even a paltry third-party performance would put 79 Biden electoral votes at risk.”

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