Analysis by Ellie Fletcher – International Affairs Editor
In the United States, one question seems to be dominating political discussions. Will former President Donald J. Trump and his supporters split from the Republican Party and form their own third party and regain the White House? The simple answer is no. The American political party system simply will not allow for that to happen. The two main political parties in the United States are often referred to as ‘Big Tents’ meaning that whilst there are more left-leaning Democrats there is also a group known as ‘Blue Dog Democrats’. These Democrats are closely linked to the more moderate wing of the Republican Party often supporting the idea of gun ownership and other more conservative views and policies. This results in there being very little room for another party to emerge. Furthermore, the lack of real diversity between the two parties’ political positions means there is little room for former President Trump to emerge with a new political party.
Secondly, the electoral system does not allow for third parties to do well during Presidential elections. The system of first-past-the-post opts for a ‘winner takes all approach’. This means that in the United States the candidate who received the most votes win the votes of the electoral college. This is a problem for third-party candidates because in order to win electoral college votes they must win the overall vote of each state. This is because each state is delegated a specific number of electoral college votes based on population size. To decide how to allocate them the number of Members of Congress is added to the two Senators allocated to each state. This allows states such as California and Texas to have a large electoral college and states like Alaska to have only three. This means that in order to win the Presidency Trump and his third party would have to gain the overall support in numerous states including places like Florida and Texas.
Overall, this is unlikely because of the dispersed support for Trump. True supporters of former President Trump are not concentrated in one area of the country and are dispersed around all fifty states. This creates a problem for the formation of a third party because Trump would have to garner more support than a traditional Republican candidate. The controversy surrounding the former President and his policies make it difficult for him to garner widespread support. This was heightened by the attacks on the Capitol Building on the 6th of January 2021. Following the events of the day, many saw Trump supporters as homegrown terrorists and blamed Trump himself for inciting the riot. This has led to many of those on the fence leaning towards a more conventional candidate and rejecting the far-right views of the Trump Administration, thus making it far more unlikely Trump would be able to secure the Republican Presidential nominee, let alone win the Presidency as a third party candidate.
Finally, it would be highly unlikely that former President Trump could retake the White House with a third party due to his initial voter base. Many of those who voted for him as President are Republicans and only voted for him in both 2016 and 2020 because they could not bring themselves to vote Democrat. This means that in future elections they would be most likely to stay with the Republican Party rather than voting Trump. This suggests that not only would Trump not garner enough additional support to win the election he would almost certainly lose a large number of votes from those who previously voted for him. A prime example of this would be in Florida where many Cuban-Americans voted for Trump due to their conservative beliefs and support of the Republican Party rather than support for former President Trump himself.
In conclusion, the likelihood that former President Donald Trump could retake the White House in the 2024 Presidential election and form a third party is highly unlikely. This is partially due to the system itself which requires concentrated support to win electoral college votes as well as the two-party system. The idea of the ‘Big Tents’ system also does not make room for Trump and a third party. Additionally, the actions of Trump during his presidency have garnered a lot of hate and many of his previous supporters have instead begun to lean more towards traditional Republican candidates. Overall, it is highly unlikely that former President Trump will create a third party and retake the White House.