by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A few folks … argue that if Liz Cheney wants to run for president in 2024, she must do so as an independent. I concur that there is no realistic path to Cheney getting the GOP nomination against Trump, either in a one-on-one race, or in a multi-candidate field that included someone like Florida governor Ron DeSantis. (If you’re getting blown out in a one-on-one GOP primary in Wyoming, you’re not gonna win the GOP presidential nomination. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you get a respectable finish in the New Hampshire primary.)
But I am skeptical that an independent or third-party bid by Cheney would have much of an impact at all.
Quin [Hillyer] makes the best argument available, pointing to the “22 percent of Trump voters, some 16 million, [who] were motivated more against eventual winner Joe Biden than for Trump. It is from that universe of hold your nose for Trump voters from which Cheney could draw, although she certainly wouldn’t attract all of them.”
Yes, theoretically, Cheney could. The problem is, those 16 million or so all ended up voting for Trump anyway. They could have voted for other candidates, who represented the longest of longshots, but they chose not to do so. Maybe some factor like the January 6 riot would make these people not vote for Trump in 2024. But polling and the 2022 primaries indicate those Republicans are relatively few and far between.
The Libertarian presidential candidate isn’t a perfect comparison, because Cheney would be better known, probably better funded, and hold different positions on several issues. But I think the number of ballots cast for the Libertarian candidate gives us a sense of the portion of the electorate that was intractably anti-Biden, and simultaneously found Trump unacceptable. In 2020, Libertarian Jo Jorgenson got 1.18 percent nationwide. …