American Bridge, a key Democratic Party opposition research group, is expanding its role beyond producing attack ads against Republican rivals. In the 2024 presidential election, the organization is assuming a new function as a ‘third-party suppressor.’
Fearing that votes for third-party candidates might detract from President Joe Biden’s support in pivotal states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona, American Bridge has enlisted election attorney Marc Elias.
American Bridge’s vigilance against third-party threats
Elias’s task is to mitigate threats from groups like No Labels and anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
American Bridge’s strategy involves closely monitoring third-party campaigns for compliance issues.
Pat Denis, president of American Bridge, stated, “We’re keeping an eye out to make sure they’re dotting all their i’s and crossing their t’s, and we are not ruling out legal action with our attorneys if we identify a problem — and that applies for all third-party threats to President Biden.”
This approach underscores the heightened vigilance of the group towards any potential disruption in the electoral process.
Fight erupts over third-party influence in elections
In a broader effort, other allies of Biden are working on multiple fronts to limit third-party candidates’ access to resources and support.
These tactics include attempts to keep them off state ballots and dissuading donors and potential candidates from associating with them.
No Labels, in response, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, alleging that these actions constitute an “illegal conspiracy to use intimidation, harassment and fear” against its supporters.
Dan Webb, a former U.S. Attorney and leader at No Labels expressed these concerns publicly.
Third-party bids gain traction in 2024 election
Despite these challenges, third-party bids from groups like No Labels and Kennedy are among the most well-funded and organized outsider campaigns in recent political history.
No Labels, which has not yet nominated a candidate, has already raised over $60 million and secured a place in 14 states, including critical battlegrounds like Arizona, Nevada, and North Carolina.
Jane Hall, No Labels co-chair in Wyoming, highlighted the growing public dissatisfaction, saying, “We are in a super unique time where voters from New York to Wyoming are just fed up beyond belief with their options.”
The dynamic of the 2024 race is further complicated by the presence of Donald Trump, with polls indicating deep concerns among voters about Biden’s age and the state of the economy, as well as Trump’s threats to democratic norms.
Third-party candidates shake up 2024 presidential race
The Reuters/Ipsos poll in December showed that when given a third-party option, Trump’s lead expanded nationally.
University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato noted the significant potential impact of third-party candidates, saying, “They’re very unlikely to win…But there is a real chance, a substantial chance, that they will determine the winner in the fall, which is why Democrats are apoplectic about them.”
Key Democratic figures like Matt Bennett, co-founder of Third Way, are actively involved in strategies to block third-party candidates.
Funded by donors like Reid Hoffman, these efforts focus on convincing the political community of the futility and risks associated with third-party campaigns.
Battle over third-party candidates in American politics
Richard Gephardt, a former Democratic congressman, has also launched a campaign, “Citizens to Save Our Republic,” to caution Americans against supporting third-party candidates.
Unlike the major parties, third-party campaigns face significant hurdles in gaining ballot access.
The process often involves extensive signature collection, navigating complex state laws, and convincing voters to change party affiliations in some states.
Theresa Amato, Ralph Nader’s former campaign manager, criticized the stringent requirements, saying, “We really have to ask ourselves, why do we allow two parties to enforce a hazing ritual for all other competitors and political voices in the United States?”
Voter dilemma: Third-party support vs. spoiler fears
Interviews with voters in Wyoming and Maryland who signed No Labels petitions reveal a strong desire for a third-party option but also a fear of inadvertently aiding Biden or Trump.
The historical impact of candidates like Ralph Nader and Ross Perot, who were seen as spoilers in previous elections, looms large in voters’ minds.
This sentiment is echoed by Anthony Gabriel, a registered Republican from Cheyenne, who said, “I am not happy with both parties, but I would not vote for a third party if I thought it meant it would help Biden win.”