Election 2024

No Labels Is No Más for the 2024 Election

The centrist establishment lane in third party presidential politics remains empty.


After years of heavy-breathing hints about giving polarization-fatigued Americans a bipartisan presidential choice, and months of painstakingly obtaining ballot access in nearly two dozen states, the 14-year-old centrist nonprofit No Labels has decided to not act like a political party after all.

"Americans remain more open to an independent presidential run and hungrier for unifying national leadership than ever before," founding CEO Nancy Jacobson said in a press release Thursday afternoon. "But No Labels has always said we would only offer our ballot line to a ticket if we could identify candidates with a credible path to winning the White House. No such candidates emerged, so the responsible course of action is for us to stand down."

According to The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, Jacobson had recently told supporters that the group went 0 for 30 in reaching out to potential "unity ticket" candidates. Among the refuseniks: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I–Ariz.), runner-up 2024 GOP contender Nikki Haley, vanquished Democratic challenger Dean Phillips (D–Minn.), former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.).

Besides confronting the cruel math of third party/independent presidential politics, the organization is still reeling from the sudden death on March 27 of founding chairman Joe Lieberman, the longtime former senator (both Democratic and independent), who made history as Al Gore's running mate in the razor-thin 2000 election.

This latest failure of establishment/moneyed centrism in presidential politics follows the derailed ambitions of Haley, Bill Weld, Michael Bloomberg, Howard SchultzEvan McMullin, and plenty of others. Those with longer memories may recall the 2012 flash-in-the-pan Americans Elect, an internet-based third party that obtained ballot access in 29 states before abruptly closing shop.

Jacobson in her statement tried to put a brave face on things, but it's hard to imagine the organization doing much more than pushing its bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus on Capitol Hill.

"We will…remain engaged over the next year during what is likely to be the most divisive presidential election of our lives. We will promote dialogue around major policy challenges and call out both sides when they speak and act in bad faith," she vowed. "Like many Americans, we are concerned that the division and strife gripping the country will reach a critical point after this election, regardless of who wins. Post-election, No Labels will be prepared to champion and defend the values and interests of America's commonsense majority."

The group's mushy, hawkish, 30-point Common Sense Policy agenda will now have to be championed mostly outside the presidential race. Why? Because the people gaining traction on the political margins are not D.C. lifers repackaging ancient Reaganism. They are outsiders, even the one with the famous name.

In five-way national polling, independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is averaging 10.5 percent—numbers not seen since the days of Ross Perot—and fellow independent Cornel West is at 2 percent, with presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 1.7 percent. Most polls as of yet do not include anyone from the Libertarian Party (L.P.), whose nominating convention is in late May, with no clear front-runner. The L.P. is coming off three consecutive third-place presidential finishes.

Kennedy, Stein, and the Libertarian nominee are all good bets to qualify for a majority of state ballots, with the L.P. currently in the lead, though Kennedy has plenty of money to throw at the problem. Notably, and very unlike No Labels, those three candidates plus West are all considerably more dovish on foreign policy than either President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump.

With American public opinion souring on Israel's war against Hamas, the anti-interventionist vote, which is constantly underrated by the more hawkish journalistic class, has plenty of alternative candidates to choose from. No Labels may be over, but third party sentiment in 2024 is alive and well.