On paper, being a nominee of either the Republican or Democratic Party gives you an almost even money shot at becoming the next President of the United States. I’m not talking about any particular candidate; this goes for all of them. Normally, the winner is chosen from one of those two party nominees. Ever since those two parties have existed together, that’s been the case – the last Whig Party president was Millard Fillmore, who left office in 1853. However, 2024 could be a little different; it could be the year a third-party candidate sneaks in.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for this, nor am I hoping for it. I fall for whoever the Republican nominee ends up being. But, and this is a big but, who that ends up being and who the Democrats ultimately have on their ballot line will determine an awful lot in what could end up being the best shot this country has had to elect a third-party candidate since 1992, if not ever.
In 1992, Ross Perot could have won the presidency. He was actually ahead for a while over the summer (which is a reminder that polls long, long before anyone votes don’t mean a damn thing). Still, he dropped out of the race, then reentered it later, only to end a distant third and play the role of spoiler for President George H. W. Bush back when you didn’t have to throw in the middle initials.
Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 because of Perot and Bush. Bush gave his word – “Read my lips, no new taxes” – then broke it unambiguously. The economy was also in rough shape. But in a normal two-party year, Bush likely would’ve been reelected because the public hadn’t really taken to Clinton (he was reelected with less than 50 percent of the vote in 1996, too).
The 2024 election has some similarities to 1992 – both have bad economies and an unpopular President, at least from a job approval point of view. Neither Bush nor Joe Biden is actually vehemently disliked or hated by a large percentage of the public. That’s about where the similarities end.
Bill Clinton wasn’t known, and while many Republicans disliked him, he would never get their vote anyway. The majority of Republicans simply didn’t like what he wanted to do to the country once they started paying attention to what exactly that was. With Donald Trump, he may be the best-known person ever to seek the presidency, and that was just in 2016.
There isn’t anyone without an opinion about Trump, good or bad. In that way, this election is likely to be nothing like 1992.
Suppose Biden and Trump end up winning their party’s nominations. In that case, this will be an election in which there won’t be anyone with an opinion about both men, and neither of them is viewed favorably by anywhere close to a majority of the public. That leaves many people in limbo, wondering if they vote for who they hate the least or skip the whole thing.
Suppose a third-party option emerged with even nominal appeal that would make the race “interesting,” to put it mildly. And considering we’re looking at the prospect of several third-party options – Cornel West, Jill Stein, Robert Kennedy Jr., and now maybe Joe Machin, there’s a very decent, though not quite certain, chance one of them could slip past to goalie to at least win a state or two.
If no one wins a majority of the Electoral College, the whole thing could be tossed into the House of Representatives, and we’ve all seen what a mess that place is when it comes to picking a leader.
But more likely, or at least as likely as that, is the possibility that one of the other candidates wins. In a three-way race, just over a third can bring in victory. When dealing with five or more candidates, significantly less is needed to win. It’s impossible to predict, but if someone could get somewhere near twenty or twenty-five percent of the vote in many states – not a crazy idea in a multi-candidate field – they could become the next president.
That would be a disaster for the country, by the way. We’ve had unpopular Presidents before – we have one now, after just having had another one – but none were twenty percent popular. The legislature would have no incentive to work with them, no matter which party controls Congress. You’d end up with an unpopular President implementing as much of their agenda as possible through executive orders and regulatory changes. That would not be seen as legitimate by anyone, but it is what the last 20 years have given us, considering the executive order power has been abused.
By the way, it doesn’t matter who wins. If they win with a tiny plurality of the vote, the system would be shaken. Biden’s return would be opposed even more by Republicans and the public, and Trump’s return would be opposed even more by Democrats and the media. Anyone else would be eaten alive, which is a generous way to put it.
About forty percent is as low as I suspect the country would ever accept to elect a president under the Electoral College system. I’m not calling for the abolition of it – far from it; I believe it was a stroke of genius our Founding Fathers created and even more critical today. But everything has a limit.
If neither party nominates someone close to a majority of the public who actually wants to be president, the possibilities are endless for bad things to happen. That doesn’t mean they will, just that they could. Since I wouldn’t support a Democrat for all the money Hunter Biden wasted on blow and hookers, what they do doesn’t matter to me, what Republicans do matters a lot. Nominating a candidate who can and actually will make a case for themselves would be an excellent place to start. From there, there’s nowhere to go but up…hopefully.
Derek Hunter is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!) and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses, and host of the weekly “Week in F*cking Review” podcast where the news is spoken about the way it deserves to be. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekAHunter.