NBC News reports on today’s statement by Ben Chavis, No Labels co-chair. No Labels will make a decision on whether to run a third-party presidential candidate after Super Tuesday and, according to Chavis, “‘If we find that the polls are changed and Joe Biden is way, way out ahead, and the person who the Republicans may choose — and if they continue to choose Donald Trump, even though he’s been indicted — then No Labels will stand down.’”
Once again, I’m confounded by No Labels’ analysis. Although Chavis today reiterated “’No Labels is not and will not be a spoiler in favor of Donald Trump in 2024,’” I would have thought that there is a much greater risk of its candidate being a spoiler if the race between Trump and Biden is relatively close rather than Biden being “way, way out ahead.” As my book Presidential Elections and Majority Rule detailed, John Anderson wasn’t a spoiler in 1980 despite a fairly strong showing as an independent candidate (6.6% nationally) because Ronald Reagan was so far ahead of Jimmy Carter that year. On the other hand, Ralph Nader was a key factor in 2000 despite winning a much smaller share of the vote than Anderson (1.6% in the determinative state of Florida) because the margin between George W. Bush and Al Gore was so much closer than the Reagan-Carter race.
If No Labels doesn’t want to risk being a spoiler, then it should “stand down” even if the Trump-Biden polls are tight (as they currently are), not just if Biden is “way, way out ahead” of Trump.