Dozens of former Republican and Democratic officials announced on Wednesday a new national political third party to appeal to millions of voters they say are dismayed with what they see as America's dysfunctional two-party system.
The new party, called Forward and whose creation was first reported by Reuters, will initially be co-chaired by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Christine Todd Whitman, the former Republican governor of New Jersey. They hope the party will become a viable alternative to the Republican and Democratic parties that dominate U.S. politics, founding members told Reuters.
Party leaders will hold a series of events in two dozen cities this autumn to roll out its platform and attract support. They will host an official launch in Houston on Sept. 24 and the party's first national convention in a major U.S. city next summer.
The new party is being formed by a merger of three political groups that have emerged in recent years as a reaction to America's increasingly polarized and gridlocked political system. The leaders cited a Gallup poll last year showing a record two-thirds of Americans believe a third party is needed.
The merger involves the Renew America Movement, formed in 2021 by dozens of former officials in the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump; the Forward Party, founded by Yang, who left the Democratic Party in 2021 and became an independent; and the Serve America Movement, a group of Democrats, Republicans and independents whose executive director is former Republican congressman David Jolly.
Two pillars of the new party's platform are to "reinvigorate a fair, flourishing economy" and to "give Americans more choices in elections, more confidence in a government that works, and more say in our future."
The party, which is centrist, has no specific policies yet. It will say at its Thursday launch: "How will we solve the big issues facing America? Not Left. Not Right. Forward."
Historically, third parties have failed to thrive in America's two-party system. Occasionally they can impact a presidential election. Analysts say the Green Party's Ralph Nader siphoned off enough votes from Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000 to help Republican George W. Bush win the White House.
It is unclear how the new Forward party might impact either party's electoral prospects in such a deeply polarized country. Political analysts are skeptical it can succeed.
Public reaction on Twitter was swift. Many Democrats on the social media platform expressed fear that the new party will siphon more votes away from Democrats, rather than Republicans, and end up helping Republicans in close races.
Forward aims to gain party registration and ballot access in 30 states by the end of 2023 and in all 50 states by late 2024, in time for the 2024 presidential and congressional elections. It aims to field candidates for local races, such as school boards and city councils, in state houses, the U.S. Congress and all the way up to the presidency.
'Financial support will not be a problem'
In an interview, Yang said the party will start with a budget of about $5 million. It has donors lined up and a grassroots membership between the three merged groups numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
"We are starting in a very strong financial position. Financial support will not be a problem," Yang said.
Another person involved in the creation of Forward, Miles Taylor - a former Homeland Security official in the Trump administration - said the idea was to give voters "a viable, credible national third party."
Taylor acknowledged that third parties had failed in the past, but said: "The fundamentals have changed. When other third party movements have emerged in the past it’s largely been inside a system where the American people aren’t asking for an alternative. The difference here is we are seeing an historic number of Americans saying they want one."
Stu Rothenberg, a veteran non-partisan political analyst, said it was easy to talk about establishing a third party but almost impossible to do so.
"The two major political parties start out with huge advantages, including 50 state parties built over decades," he said.
Rothenberg pointed out that third party presidential candidates like John Anderson in 1980 and Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 flamed out, failing to build a true third party that became a factor in national politics.
GOP insiders think DeSantis could beat Trump in 2024. Here's how.
Rarely has a rising politician thrilled party regulars the way Ron DeSantis is thrilling Republicans right now.
"If you were scripting a perfect Republican presidential candidate, the list of preferred requirements would read something like DeSantis' resume," broadcaster Piers Morgan swoonedin the New York Postlast month.
Like other conservative commentators, Morgan touted DeSantis’s relative youth (he’s 43); his honors degrees from Yale (undergraduate) and Harvard (law); his time as a Navy lawyer, which took him to Guantánamo and Iraq and won him a Bronze Star; and most of all his reign as governor of Florida, where he has muscled his way into the middle of every contemporary culture war from COVID-19 to "critical race theory" — and bankedover $100 millionfor his PAC and his 2024 reelection bid, a staggering sum for a state-level race.
"I think [DeSantis would] destroy beleaguered Joe Biden — or any other Democrat, for that matter — to win the presidency," Morgan predicted.
There's only one roadblock. He has to destroy Donald Trump first.
The reasonMAGA punditsare even mentioning Ron and Don in the same sentence is simple. Amidgrowing legal troublesand a deluge of damagingrevelations by the House select committeeinvestigating his supporters' insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump’s viselikegrip on the Republican electoratemay be slipping. According toa recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll, more than 4 in 10 Republicans say either that Trump shouldn't run for president again (27%) or that they’re not sure (17%). Among all voters, a majority (52%) now think "Trump committed a crime by trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election," and even more (54%) think the U.S. Department of Justice should prosecute him — numbers that could make some Republicans wary about his ability to win a general election.
Meanwhile, DeSantis seems to be growing stronger. When asked to choose between the two potential 2024 candidates, fewer than half of registered voters who identify as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents say they would pick the former president (45%), according to the Yahoo News/YouGov poll. Nearly as many say they would prefer DeSantis (36%). GOP primary polls in key states such asNew Hampshire,MichiganandFloridaalready put DeSantis in the lead (or close to it), and he has sweptstraw polls of GOP insiders in Wisconsin and Coloradoin recent weeks. In September, he will headline the Republican National Committee’s fall retreat.
It's a remarkable showing for a state-level politician who just four years ago was an obscure congressman in an uphill battle to become Florida’s governor. On Capitol Hill, DeSantis was mostly known as a founding member of the far-right Freedom Caucus and a frequent Fox News guest; he barely defeated his Democratic opponent in 2018. But since then he has become a "conservative folk hero" by loudly railing against what he considers the excesses of the left — closing schools and restricting businesses because of COVID-19; teaching students about structural racism and gender identity; wearing masks — and then trolling liberals with laws that steer his state the opposite way. As a result, DeSantis has been called "Trump with a brain"; his brand of politics, "competent Trumpism." And he keeps rising in the polls.
"I think DeSantis is the favorite right now," Jon Schweppe, policy director of the American Principles Project, a populist conservative think tank, told Yahoo News. "Whether or not — but even if — Trump runs, I think DeSantis can win."
The question, though, ishow. Is there a message that can actually pry Republican voters away from Trump after years of blind devotion? And can DeSantis credibly deliver it? Or is he doomed to follow in the footsteps of nearly every other Republican who has defied the former president?
DeSantis is hardly the first to consider toppling Trump.
Before the "Apprentice"star’s dominance was fully established in 2016, more than a dozen GOP hopefuls tried to stop him from securing their party’s nomination. Nothing they did — from ignoring him (Jeb Bush) to excoriating him (John Kasich) to buttering him up (Ted Cruz) to mocking the size of his hands (Marco Rubio) — worked. Trump won 45% of the vote in a crowded field and nearly three times as many delegates as anyone else.
Now a comeback bid in 2024 looks to be less a matter of if than when.
"In my own mind, I’ve already made that decision," TrumptoldNew York magazine last week. "My big decision will be whether I go before or after [the 2022 midterm elections]."
Despite Trump’s somewhat depleted state, he would still enter any 2024 GOP primary contest as the prohibitive favorite. So farevery national pollthat pits him against the rest of the potential field — as opposed to just one challenger at a time — shows the former president with a large plurality of the vote; many put him over 50%. Trump’s small-donor base is huge; his psychological hold on the average Republican primary voter is unshakable; his sway over party officials is undimmed; and even without access to Twitter, his ability to command media attention remains unrivaled.
For many younger Republicans who plainly want to be president someday — ambitious strivers such as Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas or Josh Hawley of Missouri — a third Trump effort would likely prevent them from launching a first attempt of their own. Ex-Trump officials who have been flirting with a White House run — former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — would struggle to circumvent their old boss. Former Vice President Mike Pence, at least, seems determined to make a go of it. But actual Republican voters are less enthusiastic about that prospect, with just 18% saying they would back Pence over Trump in the latest Yahoo News/YouGov survey.
As Trump put it to New York magazine, "I think a lot of people would not even run if I did … because, if you look at the polls, they don’t even register. Most of these people. And I think that you would actually have a backlash against them if they ran."
"DeSantis doesn't strike me as someone who would be afraid to challenge Trump," said Republican strategist Mike DuHaime. "I don’t know if DeSantis will run, but I don’t think he’s afraid to."
"I think DeSantis believes this is his best time to run and Trump is at his weakest," said veteran pollster Michael Cohen, managing director at Purple Strategies. "No one else is even close — and that is without DeSantis engaging him yet."
If Trump and DeSantis do decide to go toe-to-toe, they could dominate fundraising and media coverage, making it harder for other candidates to break through.
And a smaller field could put the Florida governor in a better position to consolidate the non-Trump vote than his counterparts in 2016.
"The only way [Trump] gets beaten for the nomination is if maybe somebody is able to run a one-on-one campaign against him — probably DeSantis," lawyer George Conway, one of Trump’s most outspoken conservative critics,recently predicted.
So far, Trump and DeSantis have refrained from crossing each other in public. For his part, Trump seems to believe that taking credit for DeSantis’s career — he backed the Floridian’s 2018 gubernatorial bid early — might somehow dissuade the governor from challenging his supremacy. "Well, I get along with him," Trump said last month when asked if he’d bewilling to offer DeSantis the VP spotin 2024. "I was very responsible for his success, because I endorsed him and he went up like a rocket ship."
Behind closed doors, however, Trump has "privately questioned DeSantis' loyalty while also raising questions about whether DeSantis is personable enough to win over voters,"according to Politico. (Neither the Trump camp nor the DeSantis camp responded to requests for comment.)
Meanwhile, those around DeSantisreportedlysee the Jan. 6 hearings as a "shit show" that is "exhausting" the GOP donor class — and might even end up sidelining Trump before 2024.
"That’s where [DeSantis’s] head is at," a Republican consultant familiar with the governor's thinking recentlytold Politico. "He thinks the goal here is to get Main Justice to go after him. That’s what Ron thinks this is all about."
Both men, in other words, may be hoping to avoid a head-to-head contest. But neither should bet on the other backing down. Assuming they do face off in 2024, then can DeSantis really dethrone The Donald?
Republican strategists say it's possible — but only if DeSantis can convince enough base voters that Trump has finally become the very thing he has spent his entire life desperately trying not to be: a loser.
Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump GOP strategist, tweeted this week about a sudden shift that she’s been seeing in her focus groups.
"Just had another focus group of Trump voters where ZERO wanted Trump to run again in 2024,"Longwell wrote. "Really a striking departure from dozens and dozens of focus groups pre-Jan. 6 hearings when at least half of any Trump-voting group wanted him to run again. His support is noticeably softer."
The reason,according to Longwell, isn't the hearings per se, which Trump voters still see as a "witch hunt." Rather, it’s the way the hearings remind them of "how much baggage Trump has."
Republicans "want someone who can win in 2024 and [they] are increasingly unsure he can," Longwell concluded.
DeSantis’s goal would be to crystallize that concern — then offer himself up as a winning alternative. He could point to President Biden's approval rating: just 38% right now,lower than any other modern presidentat this point in his first term (including Trump and Jimmy Carter). He could note that, despite Biden's paltry numbers, the damaged Democrat is still leading his predecessor inmost nonpartisan national polls. And without directly contradicting the "stolen election" lie that has sadly become table stakes for GOP candidates in the Age of Trump, he could remind his fellow Republicans that Trump has never actually won the national popular vote.
Trump is still the GOP alpha, Schweppe said, so attacking him directly will almost certainly "backfire." But if Republican voters are "presented with an alternative they think is even stronger — who happens to maybe be more electorally viable in a head-to-head matchup with a Democrat, with Biden or whoever — I think they're going to jump at it."
If DeSantis can destabilize Trump, Republican strategists say, it wouldn't be hard for him to pivot to a positive case for his own candidacy. "It’s a message that's very forward-looking, but also not anti-Trump," Schweppe said. "Let's go defeat woke-ism. Let's run it out of our institutions. Let's take this country back and actually make America great again."
DeSantis, he added, is "an excellent messenger for that" because of "everything he's done" in Florida — a MAGA-heavy résumé that includes reopening schools early, railing against COVID mitigations, yelling at a student for wearing a mask, battling Disney over its support of LGBT rights and engaging in strategic spats with the press.
“The Florida governor has figured out that Republicans love a culture-war brawl, but that overdoing it can alienate a general-election electorate. His solution has been to provoke narrowly targeted fights over issues that matter a lot to highly engaged conservatives and liberals — but that will not mean much to anybody else come 2024,"the Atlantic’s David Frumargued last year.
Think Trump 2.0, but with less counterproductive tweeting and more hard-nosed governing. "I'm taking what Trump did in 2016, where he broke through and really put the GOP in a great spot," Schweppe said, channeling DeSantis's message. "And I want to build on that. And here's how I'm going to do it. Look at my record in Florida. Look how I think on every issue you care about and was able to actually get legislation passed to start doing things. That's what I'm going to do if I'm elected president."
Some insiders contacted by Yahoo News for this story don’t think that DeSantis — or anyone else — can beat Trump in 2024. And given Trump’s seemingly insurmountable bond with real-life Republican primary voters — who don’t always agree with conservative pundits and professional GOP strategists, many of whom have been rooting for Trump’s demise for years — the odds are probably on their side.
“No battle. Why would DeSantis go against Trump? Makes no sense. He can be a wildly successful two-term governor of the third-largest state and run for president in his 40s,” Kellyanne Conway, a prominent Trump adviser and his 2016 campaign manager, told Yahoo News. “This is not complicated.”
"Ron thinks he can run; I think Trump would absolutely destroy him," added a longtime Republican campaign director who requested anonymity to speak candidly about private conversations with aides from the Trump and DeSantis campaigns. "I think Ron's doing a great job in Florida. Ron’s weird with people. He’s a better governor than candidate for president."
"On DeSantis, I think he would say he's Trump without the abrasiveness," one Trump adviser told Yahoo News. "If he were to use that line of attack, which is what I think he would try to do, I think it would end badly because he's so much more of a jerk than the president ever was."
An extensiveNew Yorker profilepublished in June portrayed DeSantis as a pathologically remote figure who is far more comfortable poring over scientific papers than performing the rituals of retail politics: working rope lines, making eye contact, connecting with other human beings. "People who work closely with him describe a man so aloof that he sometimes finds it difficult to carry on a conversation," the magazine reported.
"You will be in the car with Ron DeSantis, and he’ll say nothing to you for an hour," a Republican donor oncetold Politico. "He would prefer it that way."
Yet so far, DeSantis's charm deficit hasn't halted his rise — perhaps because he has figured out that combativeness plays even better on Fox News, where at times he has appeared at theastonishing rate of nearly once a dayand where producers "see him as the future of the party," according to internal emails obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.
As for waiting his turn? Strategists say that history tends to favor those who strike while the proverbial iron is hot.
"Timing is so important in politics," said DuHaime. "Many thought Obama went too soon, only having been in the Senate for a year. But he was the right candidate for the right moment and won."
Schweppe concurred. "[Former New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie was probably the favorite to win the 2012 GOP primary," he said. "But he made a practical decision; he thought Obama was likely to win a second term. Then he didn't have the same gravitas in 2016. So your moment could be really fleeting."
And even if DeSantis doesn't end up defeating Trump, Cohen argued, he "should [still] run now" if he wants to be next in line.
"Trump is unlikely to win in 2024, despite Biden’s low ratings," the pollster says. In that case, "DeSantis could conceivably run again in 2028."
Takeaways from first primaries since Roe v. Wade overturned
Arare Republican who supports abortion rightsfound success in Colorado in the first primary elections held since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, while New York's first female governor positioned herself to become a major voice in the post-Roe landscape.
In Illinois, Democrats helped boost a Republican gubernatorial candidate loyal to former President Donald Trump in the hopes that he would be the easier candidate to beat in November. And in at least two states, election deniers were defeated, even as pro-Trump lightning rods elsewhere won.
The abortion debate consumed the nation this week, but there was no race where it mattered more than Colorado’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, where businessman Joe O'Dea became one of the only abortion-rights-supporting Republicans in the nation to win a statewide primary this year.
O'Dea beat back a stiff challenge from state Rep. Ron Hanks, a Trump loyalist who opposed abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother.
O'Dea will face Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in November, and if he wins, he would become just the third Senate Republican — and the only male — to support abortion rights.
He said he backs a ban on late-term abortions and government funding of abortions but that the decision to terminate a pregnancy in the initial months is “between a person and their God.”
Democrats had spent at least $2.5 million on ads designed to boost O'Dea's opponent by promoting, among other things, that he was “too conservative” for backing a complete abortion ban.
Democrats hoped that the Roe decision would give them an advantage in several swing states, including Colorado. But, at least for now, O'Dea's victory would seem to complicate the Democrats' plans.
A WIN FOR TRUMP OR THE DEMOCRATS?
In the final weeks of a campaign, Trump once again attached himself to a Republican who was leading the race. This time, it was farmer Darren Bailey in Illinois, whoeasily cruised to the GOP nominationin the governor's race.
But while Trump can add Bailey to his endorsement record, Democrats are betting that his victory may be short-lived.
Bailey now goes on to face Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the November general election, which is just what Pritzker and his allies wanted. Pritzker, the billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, and the Democratic Governors Association spent heavily on advertising to help Bailey win the GOP nomination. Among other things, the ads reminded the state's Democratic-leaning electorate that he is “100% pro-life.”
It's a risky gamble. While Bailey may look like an easier opponent in the general election, it's feasible that he could ride a red wave — if it materializes — to the Illinois governor's mansion. Pritzker's predecessor in office was a Republican.
Bailey showed off political acumen by besting the early Republican front-runner Richard Irvin, the mayor of Illinois' second-largest city, Aurora. Irvin lost despite being the beneficiary of a staggering $50 million investment from billionaire Ken Griffin. Irvin, who is Black, refused to say whether he voted for Trump and largely avoided talking about abortion, delivering the kind of moderate message that could have cut across ideological lines in a general election.
Instead, Republicans nominated Bailey, a Trump loyalist who reads from Bible verses in campaign videos and proudly touts his anti-abortion policies in a state Trump lost by 17 percentage points in 2020.
The scandals of the men around her did not derail New York Democratic Gov.Kathy Hochul, who overcame primary challengers on the right and left to win her first election test as the state's chief executive.
Now, Hochul, New York's first female governor, is positioned to emerge as a leading voice in the Democratic Party as it navigates the post-Roe landscape.
The low-profile Hochul stepped into one of the nation's most prominent governorships last fall after Andrew Cuomo resigned in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal. She had promised to restore New Yorkers' faith in their government, only for her handpicked lieutenant governor to be arrested this spring in a federal corruption probe.
Hochul was either “consistently shamefully out of the loop, or shamefully enabling through her inaction," charged one of her primary challengers, New York City’s elected public advocate, Jumaane Williams.
The attack ultimately didn't land in the primary. But don't expect such criticism to disappear as the race for New York governor enters its next phase.
Rep. Lee Zeldin emerged from a crowded Republican field to earn the GOP nomination for governor. He defeated Andrew Giuliani, the son of New York City’s former mayor Rudy Giuliani, among others.
And while Hochul has a serious reelection test ahead, look for her to step into the national spotlight as the abortion debate rages.
The Democratic governor said in recent days that New York would be a “safe harbor” for those seeking abortions.
ELECTION DENIERS GO DOWN
They celebrated their allegiance to Trump's baseless conspiracy theories on the campaign trail. But on Tuesday night, a handful of these so-called election deniers had nothing to cheer about.
In Colorado, Republican voters did not reward secretary of state candidateTina Petersfor championing Trump's lies about election fraud. She was bested by Pam Anderson, a former county clerk who previously led the state clerks’ association and defends the state's mail-in elections system.
Some officials in both parties worried that Peters would win the primary. That's even after Peters, the Mesa County clerk, was indicted for a security breach spurred by conspiracy theories related to the 2020 presidential election. The state GOP had called on her to suspend her campaign.
Now, Anderson, not Peters, will take on incumbent Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who’s led the national fight against 2020 election deniers.
Elsewhere in Colorado, Senate candidate Hanks had also promoted lies about the last presidential election. In addition to being an outspoken opponent of abortion rights, he had attended the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
And in Mississippi, Trump loyalist Michael Cassidy lost a runoff election to incumbent Rep. Michael Guest, who had voted to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. Cassidy said in campaign speeches that Guest had done nothing to stop “the persecution of Jan. 6 political prisoners.”
First-term Rep. Mary Miller, who campaigned alongside Trump over the weekend, defeated five-term Rep. Rodney Davis, who was considered more moderate. The primary victory all but ensures Miller will return to Congress for another term given the heavy Republican advantage in her 15th Congressional District, which is the most Republican district in the state.
Miller won just days after describing the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade as “a victory for white life.” A spokesperson later said she had intended to say the decision was a victory for a “right to life.”
Miller is no stranger to provocative statements. Soon after joining the House, Miller quoted Adolf Hitler, saying he was right to say that “whoever has the youth has the future.”
And in Colorado, Trump loyalist Lauren Boebert defeated a moderate state representative who had run a primary campaign focused on Boebert’s extremism. It didn’t work.
Boebert’s controversial moves are many. She vowed to carry a handgun on the House floor. She faced calls for her censure last year after being caught on video making Islamophobic comments about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. And she heckled President Biden in his first State of the Union address.
But after winning her primary, she is almost certain to return to Congress for another two years. Her GOP-leaning 3rd Congressional District in western Colorado became even more Republican after redistricting.
A ROE SHIFT IN NEBRASKA?
Nebraska’slow-profile special electionto fill the remainder of former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s term was not supposed to be close. Republicans have held the district for nearly 60 years.
Yet Republican Mike Flood defeated Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks by only 4 percentage points on Tuesday.
The specific cause of the margin wasn’t immediately unclear, although there was evidence of higher turnout in one Democratic-leaning county that could be related to the Roe decision.
Heading into election day, Flood appeared to have a strong edge in the district, which includes Lincoln, parts of suburban Omaha and dozens of smaller, more conservative towns. The district has nearly 68,000 more Republicans than Democrats and hasn’t elected a Democrat to the House since 1964.
What happened? Lancaster County, home to the state capital and the University of Nebraska, offers some clues.
In 2020, Fortenberry won the district by nearly 22 percentage points, but he lost Lancaster County by less than 1 percentage point. In Tuesday’s special election, the Republican Flood lost Lancaster County by more than 13 percentage points.
In the end, the swing wasn’t enough to move a heavily-Republican district, but Democrats could look to the results for hope that the Roe decision will be a significant motivator for the Democratic base.
Incidentally, Fortenberry was sentenced to two years of probation on Tuesday for lying to the FBI. Flood and Pansing Brooks are expected to face off again in the November general election.