The Democratic group Third Way has released a new broadside against the No Labels effort to field a third-party presidential ticket in 2024, citing a recent polling presentation that shows a hypothetical ticket scrambling a race between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump.
In a memo published Tuesday, Third Way — a center-left group — outlined what it described as a “radical new plan” by No Labels, a centrist organization, to force a contingent election by running a third-party candidate, which could cause no candidate in the race to receive 270 electoral votes. In that scenario, No Labels could theoretically bargain its electoral votes to one of the major-party candidates, or the House of Representatives would decide the presidency.
The Third Way memo comes as allies of President Biden have aggressively moved to squash third party bids while warning Democrats that encouraging outsider candidacies might throw the election to Mr. Trump in what appears likely to be a rematch between the two men. The No Labels plan has been public for months, with the group’s chief strategist, Ryan Clancy, discussing preparations for a contingent election and the idea of using electoral votes “as a bargaining chip” in an interview with CNN in May. Third Way has largely taken the lead in pushing back against the idea of a so-called unity ticket, in which No Labels would secure ballot access for a centrist candidate.
The key slide in No Labels’ presentation shows data from eight swing states from the polling firm HarrisX. In a two-man race, it says, Mr. Trump would lead in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin; Mr. Biden would lead in Pennsylvania; and Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina would be tossups, with Biden leads within the margin of error. If Mr. Biden won the tossups — or even the tossups minus Nevada — he would win the election, assuming every other state voted as it did in 2020.
A No Labels ticket led by a Democrat would throw seven of the states to Mr. Trump, ensuring his election, according to the group’s data. But a No Labels ticket led by a Republican would lead in Nevada; be competitive in Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin; and make Florida and Georgia tossups between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump.
These numbers are something of a Rorschach test, and are open to interpretation. In its presentation, No Labels suggests that the data indicates a third-party ticket with a Republican at the top offers the best chance at besting both Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden, even though the five states where the group’s numbers show it being competitive are worth fewer than 60 electoral votes. No third-party candidate has ever come close to winning a modern American election.
Third Way, whose memo was first reported by Politico, says that the slide reflects a plan that would ensure Mr. Trump’s victory and undermine democracy and voter confidence by deliberately employing faithless electors.
No Labels could “cut a deal by promising their electors’ support to whichever major-party candidate they deem more worthy,” the memo says — or the election would be decided in the House, where each state delegation would have a single vote, meaning Wyoming would have the same weight as California. “This is a new path for their third-party effort, but the destination would be the same: the election of Donald Trump,” the memo says.
Republicans control more state delegations now, but the delegations that would vote would be the ones elected in 2024.
“The claim that No Labels has a secret plan to throw the 2024 election to the House of Representatives is a conspiracy theorist’s fever dream,” Mr. Clancy, the group’s chief strategist, said in a statement, arguing that it planned to “win the election outright in the Electoral College” and that the polling of the eight swing states — which together account for less than half the votes it would need — showed “the path for an independent ticket to win the White House is wider now than ever before.”