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No Labels Should Worry Democrats

July 20, 2023
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No Labels bills itself as a bipartisan movement dedicated to uniting Americans and healing our politics. But for now it’s roiling things, especially among Democrats.

On Monday, Rep. Annie Kuster (D., N.H.) condemned the group’s plan to nominate a third-party presidential candidate saying that would “pave the path” for a Donald Trump victory. Democratic heavyweights have also announced a super PAC to counter No Labels. One of the organizers, former Rep. Thomas Downey, denounced No Labels’ leadership as “delusional” and warned that its plans would be “helpful to Trump.”

These are legitimate concerns. A June 17 CNN/SSRS poll seems to indicate that the two party front-runners are in a dead heat not only with each other but a nebulous third option. While 33% of respondents have a favorable view of Mr. Trump and 32% of Mr. Biden, 31% favor neither of them.

So if Messrs. Biden and Trump are their parties’ nominees, a serious No Labels contender could affect the outcome. One such possible candidate is Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), featured Monday at the group’s town hall in New Hampshire. There’s little question that a three-way contest involving Mr. Manchin would exacerbate Team Biden’s problems with key groups, starting with its disappointees—two groups of Democrats who are unenthusiastic about Mr. Biden. 

One of these important groups consists of voters 18 to 29. In 2020 they made up 17% of the electorate—some 26.9 million voters—and broke 60% for Mr. Biden and 36% for Mr. Trump. Turnout among young voters was down in the 2022 midterms compared with 2018 and slightly less Democratic, helping Republicans flip the House. Continuing to emphasize college-debt forgiveness and climate issues won’t be enough to re-energize disenchanted young voters. It hasn’t worked so far. Some young Democratic-leaning voters might like No Labels’ emphasis on bipartisanship and sensible change.

Then there are black voters. A May 12 Washington Post/Ipsos Poll found only 17% of blacks would be enthusiastic if Mr. Biden is re-elected, while 49% said his policies had made “no difference” for them and 14% said they were “hurt” by them. Moreover, black turnout was down in 2022 compared with 2018, and Mr. Biden’s approval numbers dropped 10 points among black voters between January 2021 and March 2023. Team Biden’s apparent solution—to focus on voter rights—won’t guarantee that the president’s numbers improve. Again, if that was going to work, it already would have.

Does lack of enthusiasm matter? Absolutely. If 1.1% of Mr. Biden’s black supporters in Georgia stay home or vote No Labels next year, that would wipe out his 2020 Peach State victory margin of 11,779 votes. If a mere 6.3% of Mr. Biden’s young supporters in Arizona stay home or vote No Labels next year, that would wipe out his 2020 Grand Canyon State victory margin of 10,457. 

Then there are three groups of potential Democratic defectors, some of whom might be attracted by a centrist No Labels platform that promises change, emphasizes bipartisanship and focuses on making government work. Hispanics have moved rightward as their share of the electorate has risen, from 11% in 2016 to 13% in 2020. Asian-American voters have also been moving rightward. A No Labels ticket might draw Hispanic and Asian voters who are no longer Democrats but unwilling to back Mr. Trump.

Then there are suburban independents, including former Republicans turned off by Mr. Trump. They voted Democratic in 2018 and 2022 when presented with subpar Republican candidates, and they also gave Mr. Biden the White House in 2020. He needs them to win again.

No Labels bills itself as a bipartisan movement dedicated to uniting Americans and healing our politics. But for now it’s roiling things, especially among Democrats.

On Monday, Rep. Annie Kuster (D., N.H.) condemned the group’s plan to nominate a third-party presidential candidate saying that would “pave the path” for a Donald Trump victory. Democratic heavyweights have also announced a super PAC to counter No Labels. One of the organizers, former Rep. Thomas Downey, denounced No Labels’ leadership as “delusional” and warned that its plans would be “helpful to Trump.”

These are legitimate concerns. A June 17 CNN/SSRS poll seems to indicate that the two party front-runners are in a dead heat not only with each other but a nebulous third option. While 33% of respondents have a favorable view of Mr. Trump and 32% of Mr. Biden, 31% favor neither of them.

Read More at the WSJ

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