Miles Taylor, a man who was most famous when he was anonymous, threw his name last night into a hat most people were hoping wouldn't open until November 2022.
"If [former President Donald] Trump somehow wins the GOP nomination in 2024, I will run against him as an independent. And recruit more conservatives to do the same. We will split the vote and sink him," Taylor tweeted, insisting in a follow-up: "This is not a joke."
Taylor, a former Trump administration Department of Homeland Security chief of staff who wrote the bestselling book A Warning in 2019, starred in anti-Trump ads in 2020, and last month announced the intention to co-launch with 2016 anti-Trump independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin and a few former Republican elected officials an initiative to "catalyze an American renewal," made his latest splash on the same day as the official unveiling of the Renew America Movement (RAM).
The work of continuing this great nation rests in our hands now.
— Renew America Movement (@RenewAmerica) June 25, 2021
RAM held a national town hall last night attended by such figures as 2016 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee Bill Weld, Weld's fellow 2020 Republican presidential primary loser Joe Walsh, and former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele. The renewalists vow to raise "tens of millions" of dollars to defeat pro-Trump Republicans in a handful of Senate races and a couple dozen House contests in the 2022 midterms, according to Bloomberg.
For the moment, the new group is raising that money through an old vehicle, McMullin's 501(c)(4) nonprofit Stand Up Republic, which he launched two months after coming in fifth place in the 2016 election. McMullin, whose candidacy—like Taylor's threatened 2024 run—was a direct challenge to Trump from the right, exceeded the Trump-Hillary Clinton margin in just two states: His home base of Utah, where he received 21.5 percent while Trump won by 18.1 percentage points, and Minnesota (1.8 percent vs. Clinton's margin of 1.5 points).
Only two independent candidates for president have received more than 1 percent of the national popular vote in the past century—Ross Perot with 18.9 percent in 1992, and John Anderson with 6.6 percent in 1980. More to the anti-Trump point, the 45th president failed to win reelection not because his voters were lured away by third-party or independent candidates, but precisely because they weren't.
Trump received a higher percentage of votes in 2020 than he did in 2016: 46.9 percent, compared to 46.1. The main difference was that support for third-party candidates collapsed, from 5.7 percent to 1.8, and most of that bloc went to the Democratic Party, whose nominee jumped from 48.2 percent to 51.3. As I noted in November:
Pre-election polls predicted this—2016 third-party voters, and specifically Libertarians (who made up 57 percent of the third-party electorate that year), repeatedly said that a majority of them were going straight, and preferred Biden to Trump by more than two to one. There were 7.8 million third-party voters last time, and just 2.7 million this time, so any strong lean by the remaining 5 million-plus was always going to dwarf whatever impact partisans may attribute to "spoilers."
Never-Trumpers have lost just about every intra-Republican fight over the past six years, usually by lopsided margins. Where they have punched above their weight has been in media attention, and (relatedly) in raising money from Democrats dreaming of a fractured GOP. As ever, I am rooting for all new political competition while taking all bets against.