Nov 16, 2023 - Politics & Policy

What to know about No Labels and a possible third-party presidential ticket

Illustration of a "no" symbol being made in a ballot.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Centrist political organization No Labels is out to make a 2024 third-party presidential ticket a White House contender.

Why it matters: A viable third-party presidency is already an uphill battle, but qualifying in all 50 states would give any potential ticket a unique opportunity to siphon votes from the unpopular front-runners, President Biden or former President Trump.

Who is No Labels?

No Labels, established in 2009, calls itself "a unique American movement" dedicated to "the commonsense majority."

  • Leadership includes former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, and two former Republican governors — Larry Hogan of Maryland and Pat McCrory of North Carolina.
  • No Labels has already qualified for the ballot in 12 states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah — and expects to be on the ballot in 16 others by the end of 2023.
  • "Americans want more choices rather than a repeat of the 2020 presidential race," Ben Chavis, the organization's national co-chairman told the Wall Street Journal in July.
  • The organization, which advocates for bipartisanship, argues that Democrats have moved too far to the ideological left, and Republicans have moved too far to the right.

The intrigue: No Labels is the most well-funded organization that might back a third-party election challenge.

How would No Labels back a presidential candidate?

  • If it backs a presidential candidate on an independent Unity Ticket, No Labels said it will not help fund or run the campaign.
  • The organization began a project in 2021 called the "insurance project," which includes collecting signatures across the country so that it has ballot access, should it decide to promote a candidate, its website said.
  • "We are only doing ballot access work for one office and for one election," the organization said.

What's next: No Labels said it would evaluate its ticket between Super Tuesday primary elections on March 5 and an April convention in Dallas.

Who would run on a third-party ticket?

Zoom in: No Labels prospective candidates have been floated in some political circles.

  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D.-W.Va.) said he's considering a bid for the White House, after announcing he won't run for re-election in the Senate. No Labels has said that the organization's beliefs align with his.
  • Hogan, a No Labels co-chair, released an ad earlier this month that some saw as an intent to run.
  • Andrew Yang, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, has had conversations with No Labels representatives, he told POLITICO. He didn't answer whether he's been approached specifically about running.

Yes, but: Hogan also said the group wouldn't move forward with a candidate who might jeopardize Biden's re-election.

  • No Labels said it would not promote a candidate who would disproportionately attract votes from Democrats or Republicans.
  • "An independent Unity Ticket would, by definition, appeal to the vast middle of the country and draw votes from across the political spectrum," its website said.

Worth noting: Some Democrats, as well as the White House, are concerned that launching a third-party ticket risks handing the election to Trump.

  • "I think that our democracy is at risk, and I think that No Labels is perilous to our democracy. I say that without any hesitation," Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.- Calif.) said at an event in D.C.
  • One of the group's co-founders, William Galston, left the organization earlier this year over the same worries.

How do third-party candidates do in presidential elections?

Context: History has shown that third-party presidential candidates often "play the role of spoiler rather than a viable option," CNN reported.

  • Green Party and Libertarian candidates have rarely gotten more than 1% of the popular vote in presidential elections.

Flashback: Third-party candidates got more than 2% in the popular vote in 1968, 1980, 1992, 2000 and 2016.

  • In all of these elections, the party that controlled the White House then lost it.

Go deeper: Meet the spoilers: 5 candidates weighing third-party White House bids

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