A version of this story appeared on CNN’s What Matters newscast. To receive it in your inbox, subscribe for free here.
Alarm bells are ringing for Democrats scrutinizing a new CNN poll released Wednesday.
Some key lines from the CNN report written by Ariel Edwards-Levy and Jennifer Agiesta:
- “…almost half of registered voters (46%) say any Republican presidential candidate would be a better choice than Biden in 2024.”
- “…his job approval rating is just 39%. … 58% say his policies have worsened economic conditions in the United States…”
- “A smaller-than-ever share of public opinion now says…that he has the stamina and quick-wittedness to serve effectively as president (26%, down 6 points from March) , with those declines largely attributable to Democrats and Independents…”
Read the full report.
But the fact remains that despite Democrats’ obvious unease with Biden, there is no organized demand for anyone else. Even if that were the case, we wouldn’t have much time.
There is no national date by which applicants must declare their candidacy. If other Democrats were to challenge Biden, they would do so through the 50-state disparate party primary process. Each state has its own main rules and deadlines. Nevada requires primary candidates to submit documents by mid-October. South Carolina requires applicants to submit their documents in November.
But the Democratic National Committee, at Biden’s behest, is currently stuck in a standoff with Iowa and New Hampshire, which for decades have hosted Iowa’s first caucus and the nation’s first primary in New Hampshire.
Biden did not win either state in the 2020 primaries and, in a bid to reward the South Carolina primary which revived his campaign, Democrats knocked the two states out of their traditional positions under party rules. national. Iowa Democrats have yet to say when their nominating process will take place, and while the New Hampshire government is determined to hold its first primary, no date has yet been announced.
The end result could be that Democrats essentially ignore the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary election.
Biden might not even be on the ballot in New Hampshire if, as expected, he holds a primary in January.
The most visible person challenging Biden, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is a known message about the vaccine and has pushed conspiracy theories that make him distasteful to most voters.
The fact that notable progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who twice ran for president as a Democrat, are not calling for an alternative to Biden shows that the party’s motivated left-wing base at least settles for Biden’s odds and his performance so far.
Anti-Trump Republicans, like New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, are adamant that there is a viable alternative to Trump.
Sununu became “animated and agitated” when CNN’s Jeff Zeleny asked if Trump was on an unstoppable run to the nomination.
“Oh my God no!” Sununu told Zeleny.
But none of the candidates challenging Trump have yet managed to stand out in the polls and, in fact, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has disappeared in recent polls.
The idea that a Republican who doesn’t run — like Virginia Gov. Glenn Younkin, for example — could jump into the race and fly off to challenge Trump seems equally unlikely.
That’s why, until you see someone with some notoriety and deep pockets or financial backing seriously talking about running the race, a credible Democratic alternative to Biden or a last minute Republican alternative to Trump looks academic. Could this technically happen? Of course. Are there any indications that this is happening? No.
Although navigating the party primaries system can seem complicated, the advantage of using it is that the major political parties, and often some minor parties, have a reserved place on the ballot in the December general election.
A major hurdle for an independent candidate would be gaining ballot access in all 50 states and the District of Columbia — or at least enough states to muster 270 electoral votes. Most of these filing deadlines do not arrive until later in 2024.
An independent national campaign would require staff, fundraising and organizers. This process takes time and even some established third parties are not registered to vote in all states.
The Libertarian Party is frequently successful in gaining access to its candidates’ ballots in all 50 states and the Green Party strives each year to maintain the support it needs to be on the ballots. In July, the Green Party did not have access to the vote in much of the country.
The No Labels group is pushing what it calls an “Insurance 2024 Project”, whereby it plans to gain access to the ballot box to “potentially offer” an “independent Unity Ticket”, but only “if it is what the American people want.
The moderate group circumvents the electoral rules by gaining access to the ballot as a non-profit association rather than as a political party. Its non-profit status also allows it to keep the identity of its funders secret, a move it has championed to protect the privacy of its fundraisers and defend them from pressures to abandon the movement. It also obviously violates the spirit of transparency in politics and fundraising, which is not very democratic.
No Labels featured West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who is seriously considering becoming an independent, at an event in New Hampshire. Manchin did not say whether he would seek re-election to the Senate, launch an independent presidential bid or do anything else.
Senator Mark Kelly, a Democrat from Arizona, said last month on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ that he personally discouraged Manchin from running and disparaged the No Labels effort. .
“It’s about a few individuals investing black money in an organization,” he said. “That’s not how our democracy should be.”
The favorable term for No Labels – “Unity Ticket” – suggests that it would take both a Republican and a Democrat and would be exciting enough to pull a significant portion of voters out of their partisan corners. At least for now, it’s hard to imagine a person who fits that profile.
Do you have any ideas on who could unify the country? Let us know at email@example.com.
Here’s another line from the No Labels website: “We’re simply removing the barriers to ballot access built by major parties to create space for the potential nomination of an independent Unity Ticket, if that’s what they want.” the American public. »
Who can say what the public wants? That’s probably what elections are for. The most notable No Labels figureheads include former Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, both moderates who have distanced themselves from their parties but lack national support.
Independent and third-party candidates are bad news for incumbents
Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have warned that any moderate alternative could only help Trump. There is plenty of evidence to support this claim. Candidates who resonate outside of the typical Republican and Democratic bases tend to benefit the big out-of-power party nominee.
- 1968 – The candidacy of George Wallace coincided with the defeat of the Democratic candidate, Hubert Humphrey, after eight years of Democratic tenure in the White House.
- 1980 – The candidacy of John B. Anderson coincided with the defeat of incumbent President Jimmy Carter.
- 1992 – Ross Perot’s candidacy coincided with the defeat of incumbent President George HW Bush. Perot’s second candidacy in 1996 was the exception to the rule, as Perot again siphoned off support from the Republican. Bill Clinton was easily re-elected.
- 2000 – The high point for the Green Party, when its candidate Ralph Nader obtained almost 3% of the vote, coinciding with the defeat in the Electoral College of the Democratic candidate, Vice President Al Gore, against George W. Bush.
All this to say that despite the frustration on both sides of the political aisle, the path to serious alternatives remains very stymied.