The United States is a two-party system. But there have been a couple of exceptions, most notably Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000 and Reform Party Candidate Ross Perot in the 1990’s.
But efforts on behalf of the political organization, No Labels, are geared towards another exception in history – the potential implementation of an independent Presidential Unity ticket on the 2024 ballot.
What is No Labels and what is their mission in the 2024 election?
No Labels, a 501c4 organization which formed in 2009, describes themselves as “a national movement of common-sense Americans pushing our leaders to solve our country’s biggest problems,” according to their website. Their mission is to create less of an extreme divide between the left and right.
Their 2024 insurance project is an effort to nominate an independent Presidential Unity ticket in the 2024 elections. This ticket would include an Independent presidential and vice-presidential candidate who will “commit to working closely with both parties to find common sense solutions,” according to the website.
“Here's the key - It's only if there's a realistic opening for it to win,” said No Labels Chief Strategist, Ryan Clancy. “And by win, that means outright in the electoral college.”
He emphasized that they have not made a determination yet as to whether or not they will go forward with this, and won’t for a long time, as the elections are still over a year away. They also will not choose the president and vice president candidates until it is clear whether or not they are going forward.
Part of determining their decision is gathering signatures across the country. So far, they have 600,000, according to Clancy.
He added that they have already received ballot access in four states, including Alaska, Oregon, Colorado and Arizona.
“We expect to be on the ballot in about 20 states by the end of this year,” said Clancy.
Why does No Labels feel this project is important?
“The one thing we know about America in general is that we like competition. And most people agree that in business and sports and life, competition makes everyone stronger. But in the absence of competition, you get stagnation. And that's what's happening to our politics right now,” said Clancy. “Both parties have kind of reached this point where they don't even feel like they have a need to make an appeal or to nominate candidates with broad appeal across the country. They just sort of figure in the end, you may not even like our candidate, but you'll probably hate or fear the other candidate more and, in the end, you'll come home and vote for us.”
He emphasized that the organization wants to give people choices that they will be satisfied with.
“We keep election after election, ratcheting up this cycle of grievance and anger, and the public doesn't want it. They really do want something better. They would like somebody they can vote for who has an aspirational vision for the country,” said Clancy. “No labels is just doing what we can to lay the groundwork to give the public a choice we think they want.”
What are the steps to getting a third-party candidate on the ballot in NH?
The steps to get a third-party candidate on the ballot differ from State to State.
In New Hampshire, a presidential ticket on the ballot requires 3000 signatures from voters on the voter checklist – 1500 from each congressional district, according to New Hampshire Secretary of State, David Scanlan.
The organization said they do have financial support from donors all across the country. However, because they are a 501c4 organization, they are not allowed to disclose these sources.
No Labels has not yet started collecting signatures in New Hampshire.
Is it likely the organization will get a ticket on the NH ballot?
As of right now, New Hampshire is not one of the 20 states in which the organization is projected to have garnered ballot access by the end of this year.
However, the organization conducted a polling and modeling exercise in December which suggested New Hampshire has ballot-access potential by the time of the election.
“We tested the viability of what we described in the poll as a moderate independent ticket versus the choices of former President Trump and President Biden to see where there looked like there was a path to victory. And New Hampshire was one of the states that was in our column, in that projection,” said Clancy. “And overall, what the model ended up showing was a path to victory for the ticket like this, in 25 states, representing over 270 electoral votes.”
This exercise used the assumption of Biden and Trump being the 2024 candidates, however, it is unknown, as of now, who the final two will be.
The organization has also faced lots of backlash towards their ballot access efforts with other efforts to stop them from getting on the 2024 ballot.
“It isn't surprising because established interest usually doesn’t like competition,” said Clancy.
How do New Hampshire’s Democratic and Republican party chairs feel about No Labels’ efforts?
“It's not that terribly difficult to get on the general election ballot with the presidential candidate - they could do that,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman, Ray Buckley. But, he said the likelihood of them getting elected would be more difficult to measure, as it would depend on who the candidate is and how much money their campaign would carry.
“I think it'd be preferable if they didn't have a candidate on the ballot. But, I feel very confident that President Biden will do quite well if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee.”
“It's difficult to generate the support you need to have another party,” said New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman, Chris Ager. “We don't necessarily support or feel that there's a need for any additional parties.”
However, Ager did acknowledge the importance of sharing political views.
“The more that people are involved and share their ideas, the better. And so, we don't discourage anyone from getting involved in whatever means they believe would represent their views.”
Would a third-party candidate draw votes away from one party or the other?
Clancy said a lot of people like to use Green Party Candidates Ralph Nader in 2000 and Jill Stein in 2012 and 2016 as examples of times when third party candidates drew from the Democratic vote.
“People sort of say, these independent tickets, they spoil, and when they spoil, they only spoil in one direction. And that's in favor of the Republicans,” said Clancy. “What's wrong about that is those two candidates, they were left wing protest candidates, so they were only ever going to pull out of the Democratic column.”
“We've taken a really close look at 1992 when Ross Perot ran, and that's arguably the last time an independent ran with an appeal to the vast middle of the country,” he said.
He cited an NBC exit poll that was done after the 1992 election, which asked Perot voters who they would have voted for if Perot had not been in the election. The results of the poll stated that 38% would have voted for Bush, 38% would have voted for Clinton, and 24% said they would not have voted at all.
“So, there's reasons historically to suggest there's evidence that tickets can draw evenly from both sides.”
However, Dante Scala, Political Science Professor at the University of New Hampshire said it is possible for the nominee to pull from one party over another, if they did not remain completely centrist.
“I think once such a candidate starts running, she or he is going to look for where they can pick off some voters. And you know, the candidate might not be all that careful about staying totally centrist,” he said. They’re going to be inspired by the same ambitions that other candidates have, which is to win as many votes as possible.”
Scala shares his views on expanding the two-party system
In response to the population of Americans wanting to defeat the two-party system, Scala said he believes it would require the US to adopt a system of proportional representation, similar to European political systems.
“I don't think you can make those changes by running a candidate for president,” he said. “You would need to find ways to change the whole American political system - Congress as well as President.”
“If we had more parties that could succeed, then we might wind up with a system that encourages compromises rather than this winner take all mentality that we have these days.”
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