By Peter Hall | Pennsylvania Capital-Star
Prominent Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans warned this week that a poll of voters shows the inclusion of a third-party candidate on next year’s presidential ballot would lead to Donald Trump’s reelection.
In a call with reporters on Wednesday, leaders including former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and former U.S. Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-8th District) said an effort by the bipartisan group No Labels to put a third candidate on all 50 states’ ballots would split the independent and moderate Republican votes President Joe Biden needs to secure reelection.
Greenwood, who served six terms in his Bucks County district, said Trump is the only Republican presidential candidate in the last 50 years he has not voted for. Greenwood said it was clear Trump was “profoundly unfit to hold office.”
“He demonstrated that and deepened my concern about the likelihood, the possibility of that man ever returning to the White House,” Greenwood said.
Rendell said he believes Trump has forfeited his right to be president by attempting to overthrow the 2020 election and that Trump’s reelection “would be a horror show for America.” Voters need only to examine the results of the 2016 election, Rendell said, when Hillary Clinton lost Pennsylvania by 1% while third party candidates Jill Stein and Ralph Nader won more than 3%.
“I have no doubt that if neither of them were running she would have carried Pennsylvania, probably carried Michigan, Wisconsin, and would have been president of the United States. We can’t let it happen again. It’s too important. Pennsylvania is too much of a key state to let this happen,” Rendell said.
Greenwood noted that in 2020, Biden carried Pennsylvania, one of five must-win swing states, by 1% of the vote. He did that by winning the independent vote by four percentage points and siphoning centrist Republican votes away from Trump.
“The notion that he could lose independents and lose moderate Republicans … to a third party candidate like No Labels would be a disaster,” Greenwood said.
No Labels describes itself as a bipartisan group dedicated to breaking down partisan barriers to allow Congressional leaders to work together. It gave rise to the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House, led by U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1st District) and U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J. 5th District).
Among its leaders in the U.S. Senate, No Labels lists West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Independent Kyrsten Sinema.
In an effort labeled “Insurance Policy 2024,” the group says it is preparing for the possibility of nominating a candidate but has not committed to doing so. It would put up a candidate only under the proper conditions, which it will assess through polling and research, the organization said.
A poll by Citizens to Save Our Republic, a bipartisan group of elected and appointed officials who oppose No Labels’ third party candidate push, suggests that the inclusion of a moderate independent third candidate on the presidential ballot would result in a one percentage point victory for Trump in the national popular vote.
The poll also showed that in five swing states crucial to winning the Electoral College, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, a third candidate would lead to Biden losing those states by between 3% and 9% of the vote.
In Pennsylvania, Biden would lose 38% to 43%, the poll showed.
No Labels Chief Strategist Ryan Clancy said no poll can say with any certainty how a No Labels ticket, which doesn’t have a candidate yet, would impact the presidential race more than a year away.
“The only thing that can be said for certain is No Labels is working to provide another choice that a majority of Americans clearly want, and these groups are standing in the way,” Clancy said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-2nd District) said Pennsylvania’s 19 Electoral College votes are essential to winning the presidential election, as the last two elections have shown.
“Any third party effort that siphons off a half a percentage point or one point, let alone the five points that are showing in the poll, that would be absolutely devastating,” Boyle said.
The effort to overturn the 2020 election and the failed Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in the U.S. Capitol were not the end of Trump and far-right Republicans’ threats to democracy, U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-17th District) said.
“The sparks that fueled that terrible violence on that day, they persist,” Deluzio said. “The American people do not want this anti-democratic extremism. They don’t want our democracy to fail. And let me be clear, any effort that makes it more likely for Donald Trump to succeed is dangerous. I think we’re duty bound to oppose it.”