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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

How "Double Haters" and Third-Party Wannabes Will be Crucial in Deciding Biden-Trump Rematch

Updated: Apr 1

The good news -- for Democrats and others predisposed to favor small “d” democracy over autocratic authoritarianism -- is that President Joe Biden this week took a slight lead over Former Guy Donald Trump, in at

least one poll of a head-to-head matchup.

The bad news: the 2024 election won’t be a head-to-head matchup.

** At least three high-profile third-party candidates are aiming for ballot access in key electoral states, shifting the political calculus, slightly but meaningfully, in Trump’s favor, according to the latest Quinnipiac University Poll, considered among the ranks of reputable national polls.

Seven months before the Nov. 5 election, the survey, like virtually every national poll, shows the race within the margin of statistical error; and like virtually every other poll, it shows Trump overtaking Biden when Green Party candidate Jill Stein, left-wing progressive Cornel West, and anti-vax independent Robert F. Kennedy are factored in:

Head-to-head percentages:

Biden 48

Trump 45

Biden-Trump percentages, with Third Party candidates:

Trump 39

Biden. 38

Kennedy 13

Stein 4 West. 3

So there's that.

Barabak explains. Influential political columnist Mark Z. Barabak of the Los Angeles Times returned to Newsmakers this week, to help cut through the permutations, expectations, and confrontations of the numbers, in a conversation about the state of play of what may be the most consequential presidential election since 1860,

Not a fan of horserace polls, Barabak did identify one key factor to watch for in the endless deluge of media surveys of the race: the attitudes and leanings of what political professionals call “double haters” – voters who can’t stand either Biden or Trump -- and whether they a) break strongly for the Democratic grandpa or the Republican grifter; c) support one of the impracticable third way candidacies; or c) sit out the election on the couch.

These pox-on-both-their-house citizens were important in Biden’s defeat of Trump four years ago, when he won them by 15 percent.

Such voters represented only about 3 percent of the 2020 electorate, while multiple surveys this time out show that about one in five voters is a “double hater,” a finding which aligns with the sharp decline in popular regard for Biden, who now ranks as the most unpopular president seeking re-election in recent history.

The 2024 "double hater" portion of the electorate closely resembles that of 2016, when many voters disliked both Trump and Hillary Clinton. That year, they broke late and overwhelmingly for Trump, as reported in a Politico analysis of the phenomenon:

"Back then, Trump won a bigger share of the double haters than Hilary Clinton, outperforming her by about 17 percentage points amongst the group that made up 18 percent of the electorate. Biden turned the tables in 2020 and won the group by 15 percentage points (granted, they only made up about 3 percent of the electorate then, according to exit polling), and he continues to have a 45 percent to 33 percent advantage. This year, however, a third-party candidate seems to be a far more popular option — at least for now."

Born on third base. Although Kennedy is the third-party possibility who currently polls strongest, he faces a big challenge in navigating the byzantine byways of gaining ballot access, a chore that is both complex and expensive - one big reason why he announced this week that his running mate is Nicole Shanahan, a wealthy Silicon Valley philanthropist and political donor once married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Much of Kennedy's current standing is, of course, based on his iconic Democratic Party family name, which on the natural hurts Biden; however, as voters get to know more about his anti-tax and conspiratorial views, he could end up pulling voters from Trump.

The reason, according to Barabak: the "horseshoe" dynamic, by which the views of extremists from the left and the right tend to move ever closer to each other, obscuring traditional ideological differences in a meeting of whack job minds.

As for Stein, whose previous campaigns have received support from Russian intelligence and media outlets, she won only 1 percent of the national vote in 2016, but the support she captured in the three the battleground states that decided the election – Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania – was greater than the tiny differences between Trump and Clinton; Democrats fear she could have a similar determinative effect in 2024.

Because the Green Party has a guaranteed ballot line in many states, Stein faces fewer obstacles to access than West, a Harvard professor who has formed a new party, called Justice for All, which has qualified only in a handful of states.

Bottom line. As a practical matter, Barabak emphasizes, the outcome of presidential balloting is a foregone conclusion in more than 40 states, at a time when the nation is entrenched in an increasingly toxic and hostile divide between Red and Blue states.

So once again, the result will be determined in the three aforementioned Midwestern states, along with Arizona. Georgia and Nevada.

One other political matters, the LAT's ace columnist:

  • Deconstructed the just-completed primary voting in California’s U.S. Senate race for the seat long held by the late Dianne Feinstein.

  • Explained how Rep. Adam Schiff, whose victory in November is all-but-certain, represents a political shift in California, in which geography now matters far less than a candidate’s personal brand on cable and social media.

  • Analyzed the dubious Senate candidacy of Republican nominee Steve Garvey, noted womanizer and former Dodgers first baseman, who seems to be running for the exercise.

  • Discussed the sore loser behavior of Rep, Katie Porter, who got stomped by Schiff and immediately complained the election was “rigged” against her.

  • Reprised his reporting on the key Senate race in Arizona, where election denier Kari Lake is locked in a struggle with normie Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallegos for the seat being given up by centrist Kristen Sinema.

  • Offered a tongue-in-cheek, three-dimensional chess scenario in which Trump selects as a vice-presidential running mate someone who is even more objectionable to Democrats than him, if you can imagine that, as a form of impeachment insurance.

All this, right here, right now, on Newsmakers TV.


You can listen to a podcast of our conversation with Mark via this link and watch the YouTube version below or by clicking through this link. TVSB, Channel 17, airs the show every weeknight at 8 p.m. and at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. KCSB, 91.9 FM, broadcasts the program on Monday at 5:30 p.m.

** (Update 4-1-24: After this post was sent out to newsletter subscribers, a highly-informed reader noted that we had overstated the reliability of the Quinnipiac Poll. Two paragraphs referring to the poll generally, and to its specific findings about the presidential race, have been revised to be more accurate).



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