If Joe Biden wins the presidency next week, it will be with a coalition that spans figures from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all the way to Carly Fiorina, the former Republican candidate for president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard.
Biden’s left flank has already made plenty of noise about how they’d seek to pull him leftward if he wins. His Republican supporters would be pulling in the opposite direction but – perhaps in an acknowledgement of the uphill climb they would face – the idea of a third party in 2021 keeps coming up.
And the idea keeps coming up when discussing either scenario: as a check on Democrats or a rejection of Trump in a second term.
Asked by Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit this week about different scenarios for the Republican party, Fiorina gamed it out, saying that “every single one of the alternatives” is on the table.
“One of the things that I have said publicly and said to many of my colleagues is, we are not asked as citizens of this country to pledge allegiance to a party,” she said.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who challenged Donald Trump in the 2020 primaries and already voted for Biden, predicted a new party in a recent interview. “I think in January and February, frankly, whether Trump wins or loses, you're going to see an effort by moderate Republicans, joined by moderate Democrats, some practical libertarians, many environmentalists, the old Green Party, come together,” he said. “It'll be a new party.”
Another one of President Trump’s 2020 challengers, Joe Walsh, has said “the Republican Party is done. It’s breaking up before our very eyes.”
‘We don’t agree with Joe Biden on every policy’
The question will be how much interest a coalition would get behind figures like Fiorina, who dropped out in 2016 after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, and Weld, who dropped his challenge to Trump this year after winning just a single delegate.
Trump’s opponents in the Republican party have also been talking about a third party for years. Evan McMullin even ran as an independent in 2016 for disaffected Trump supporters, but he came in fifth with 0.53% of the vote. This time around, he is voting for Biden.
But the statements leave plenty of wiggle room for these figures in 2021. Romney’s former staffers noted that “we don’t agree with Joe Biden on every policy,” even as they think he’s better than four more years of Trump.
Romney himself announced that he did not vote for Trump this year – like he did in 2016 – but didn’t say who he voted for instead.
This former wing of the Republican party is also clearly looking to be a political force long after the 2020 voting has ended. The Lincoln Project, a group of former Republican political operatives with a mission of “defeating Trumpism,” is already making moves to transition into a media company in 2021.
‘I am still a Republican’
In her interview with Yahoo Finance, Fiorina backed Joe Biden’s plan to raise taxes. Gary Cohn, Trump’s former top economic advisor, also reiterated he was fine with the corporate tax rate being raised to 28%, as Biden has proposed.
But other Biden-supporting Republicans disagree even while they announce their support for him.
When Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican party, announced his vote for Biden he said he did so even as they disagreed on many issues. “It is my fervent hope that he will pursue policies that will help our country heal,” he said.
Rick Snyder, the former Republican governor of Michigan, said he’s voting for Biden. But “I am still a Republican who also will be publicly supporting Republican candidates at the local, state and federal level,” he said.
Fiorina – while supportive of tax cuts – warned of Democratic pushes for even higher taxes and new regulations that could have the effect of “throttling business.”
‘Perhaps an interesting conversation’
The final option for many of these “homeless” Republicans would, of course, be to regain influence in the Republican party if Trump loses.
For Fiorina, rejoining the Republican party would clearly be a nonstarter during a second Trump term. But if Trump were to lose, “I think there is perhaps an interesting conversation” that will happen in the party about “the future of the Republican Party after Trump.”
Not everyone agrees Trump will go away so easily, even if he comes up short next week. On Thursday, the New York Times unveiled its last magazine cover before Election Day which promised “Win or Lose, It’s Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”
Ben Werschkul is a producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.