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EDITORIAL: The election rematch that many voters don’t want

Polls reveal that a majority of American voters aren’t happy about a potential rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election. Yet that’s what the country seems poised to endure.

Mr. Trump easily won the New Hampshire Republican primary Tuesday, collecting 54 percent of the vote to beat his last GOP significant challenger, Nikki Haley, by 11 points. With South Carolina, her home state, on the Republican primary calendar for Feb. 24, Ms. Haley insists she will stay the course. But she trails Mr. Trump by 40 points on her home turf, according to ABC News, and a loss there would effectively end her campaign.

Ms. Haley’s decision to hang on — not surprisingly, the subject of much vitriol and bombast from Mr. Trump — may reflect a pragmatism stemming from the former president’s legal hurdles. Perhaps she’s positioning herself as her party’s alternative should Mr. Trump be unable to make it to November as a result of one or more dalliances with the judicial system.

Absent that unlikely end, Tuesday’s results move the nation further toward another Biden-Trump campaign. A survey released this week by The Hill, in conjunction with Decision Desk HQ, found that 59 percent of those queried were either “not too enthusiastic” or “not at all enthusiastic” about that prospect.

Such high rates of dissatisfaction with what the two major political parties are offering opens the door for a formidable third-party hopeful. Most notably, representatives of No Labels — which describes itself as “a national movement of common-sense Americans pushing our leaders together to solve our country’s biggest problems” — have suggested they will field a “unity” candidate for the White House if the only alternatives are Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump. The group currently has earned ballot access in 13 states, including Nevada.

Democrats are terrified that No Labels, which includes a handful of prominent former Democrats and Republicans, could complicate matters for the unpopular and foundering Mr. Biden. This has led to the spectacle of progressives tarring Mr. Trump as a “threat to democracy” while they work feverishly to discredit what could be a viable third alternative for many voters. One might conclude their devotion to democracy has its limitations.

It’s also pure conjecture to predict at this point where No Labels might draw support. Mr. Trump has his own polling problems, as he continues to play to his ardent base rather than work to attract moderates and independents into his coalition. The race may look very different in a few months, given Mr. Trump’s legal issues, the ups and downs of the economy and the evolving outlook of voters. A Trump-Biden rematch appears inevitable, but there are enough minefields ahead for both candidates to keep it interesting.

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