In America’s two-party system, third-party candidates have never taken more than a small portion of votes in presidential elections. After Donald Trump caused chaos in the Republican party, they may not welcome him if he runs in 2024. If that is the case, he may run as an independent, or start a new party.
Currently, there are two main third parties, the Libertarian and Green parties, which arguably took away votes that could have led to Clinton’s victory in 2016. If Trump runs in a third party, he could do the same by sapping conservative votes from the Republican candidate.
President Trump was a catalyst to radical change for the Republican party. On January 6, Trump supporters attacked and invaded the US Capitol building with the aim to stop the vote to approve the presidential confirmation of Joe Biden. Many Republicans viewed it as a monumental offense on American democracy, yet, a handful of Republican politicians did not outright condemn the actions of the rioters. Since the riot, tens of thousands of Republicans have left the party and registered as independents but a large majority still stand by Trump.
According to a CBS News poll, a third of Republicans said that they would join Trump if he formed a third party. Miles Taylor, a former Trump administration official, told CBS that he “sees a lot of folks are ready to turn the page and that’s kind of where we feel the momentum is.”
In the 2016 Republican primary debate, Donald Trump made it clear that he doesn’t “have time for political correctness”. However, this political correctness is what deterred candidates from using extremist language that is frankly no longer unacceptable. Now, the Republican party is becoming a growing symbol of intolerance, and center-right, moderate, voices are being silenced.
Trump has been a significant catalyst for the spread of normalized bigotry. He has contributed to the rise of extremist politicians, who support him. Despite the rise of Trump’s support of more radical conservatives, 73% of Republicans said it was “very or somewhat important that Republicans show loyalty to Trump,” according to a CBS News poll.
After the insurrection on January 6th, the departure of President Trump, and the rise in popularity of extremist conservative politicians, Republican officials are debating how the party is going to move forward.
Experts see the challenges to running with intentions to win as a third-party candidate, but many feel like this time may be different. “After the insurrection, a third of the Republican party wants a new direction,” said Evan McMullin, a former chief policy director for the House Republican Conference, in a CBS News interview.
The Republican party has a choice to either split into two factions or move into a new and more extremist direction. Some Republican leaders feel that splitting the party will be a greater detriment to its ability to rally Americans. While others feel that the 21st century calls for a transition into the newest phase of conservatism.