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

Jerry Roberts interviews political columnist Mark Z. Barabak of the Los Angeles Times (courtesy)

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.



Written by Jerry Roberts

“Newsmakers” is a multimedia journalism platform that focuses on politics, media and public affairs in Santa Barbara. Learn more at

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    • This Democrat folk myth needs constant rebutting. A vote for Green Party is not a vote for Democratic Party. Most Green Party members left the Democractic Party because of the corruption and sell out of the Clintons (in particular) to Wall Street and high tech money. Green Party members would almost to a person abstain from voting before compromising with the Dems though some may have been tempted by the anti-establishment aura of the Trump penumbra. Green Party people would vote for people like Bernie Sanders but he was also screwed by the same Democratic ruling class.

  1. I wish more people would stop being so concerned about “likability”, and more concerned about plain old “ability”. Voting, as it’s sometime said, isn’t sending a valentine, it’s making a chess move. Citizens should vote as if they are hiring a leader for their organization based on experience, intelligence, and motivation to serve the citizenry.

    I generally like Jerry Roberts viewpoints, but he treats polling numbers as if they’re useful data. They are not. People should keep these two things in mind when they happen to read political poll results:

    1) It has never been easier to get a poll published, regardless of the quality of that poll. Slanted questions, small samples, and deceptive or incorrect inferences are rampant in quick polls, but they still get published in our 24-hour ravenous new cycles.
    2) It has never been harder to get a rapid, random, cross-sectional sample of American opinion. There is no method of quickly collecting opinions that doesn’t exclude huge demographic subsets. Land lines, cell phones, online surveys and email responses are all highly selective and often ignore very large societal strata.

    This means that any political poll you read is highly likely to be garbage, and I strongly suggest ignoring them, no matter what they purport to conclude.

  2. As a wise man once said, ‘just shut up and vote’. And we’re nowhere near November. But hey, if you can’t decide who to vote for come that time, I’d say please don’t vote. Spend your time thinking about something else.

  3. So all of these early predictions should be taken as great possible outcomes yet with serious repercussions on Democracy, Yet, by no means any theories are not currently in any way solidified enough to predict or really halt continuous all serious discussions and the most important nationwide encouragement of hope and faith on Democracy during actual voting time. LoL

  4. Thanks Jerry. Always good to shake up voters not to be complacent and to get to the polls when the time comes. All those people who thought Hilary was a easy win and didn’t bother voting lost her the election. My approach is: vote for the one who most reflects your values AND has the best chance of winning.

  5. Wow, bumbling, mumbling Biden ahead of anyone is a joke, Daffy Duck could do better than Biden. Odd the DNC was so afraid of RFK Jr. they refused to allow to participate. A little corruption appears to be around, shocking. If Biden was in a debate with RFK Jr, bumbling, mumbling Biden would show Biden’s utter incompetence. Not surprised Jerry Roberts calls RFK Jr an “anti-vaxxer” as if it is something bad. Especially after the covid shenanigans how anyone could line up for any “vaccine” is baffling. RFK Jr has done far more for the environment and children who have suffered from pharma’s damages than Jerry Roberts could even think of doing. Funny how polls are so important to some pushing political stuff. Odd to not ask about the political polls who funded them, what outcome did the financial backers want, what questions were asked to get a certain outcome, how many people were included in the polls (the only real numbers that count as NOT every eligible voter was included), what political stand do those who took the poll have?

    If no political parties were part of our republic, not a democracy candidates would have to stand for issues and not a political party. The political party system shows how much damage they have done to our voting procedures.

  6. It is scurrilous journalism to make reference to the alleged support from Russian agents for Stein. It is not mentioned that the same alleged interference had Russians supporting Bernie Sanders. These reporters know very well that the Russian interference is designed to stop democracies by distracting voters. No one in the Green Party asked for anything the Russians may have done. Nor did Bernie. Had Bernie beaten Hillary would they object to his succession to the Presidency because he was a proven Russian plant?

      • This is absurd. Stein was at a table that Putin joined for a short time. They had no comments together. On the other hand, Trump has stood on stage and praised Putin saying that he choose to believe Putin’s lies over the US intelligence service briefings. He has also said he would encourage Putin to invade NATO countries and would not help to defend such countries. Ad nauseam.

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