Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

How Justin Amash’s Third-Party Presidential Bid Could Impact the 2020 Election

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

The Michigan congressman’s third-party candidacy has some worried he could play spoiler in the 2020 presidential election.

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Last year, West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash was the first and only Republican in the U.S. House to fully back the impeachment of President Trump. Then, Amash left the GOP and became an Independent.

Now, he’s taking the first steps toward running for president as a Libertarian candidate. His third-party candidacy has some worried he could play spoiler in the 2020 presidential election, especially in key battleground states like Michigan.

Listen: How will Congressman Amash’s candidacy impact the presidential election? 


Shikha Dalmiaa senior analyst for the Reason Foundation and a self-described progressive Libertarian, says Amash is one of those individuals who takes the Constitution very seriously, making his formal transition to the Libertarian party rather smooth. “He is a small-L libertarian until… now, he’s made the jump to a big-L Libertarian running for the party’s nomination,” says Dalmia. She says he describes himself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal.

Shikha DalmiaJake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Shikha Dalmia

Amash, however, faces challenges many other third-party candidates endure in a prevailing two-party system. Dalmia says without the name recognition and billion-dollar backing of previous third-party candidates, Amash’s run could be quite difficult. Without a clear path to the White House some worry that Amash’s candidacy will simply place a thumb on the scale for either Biden or Trump. “I am worried a little bit about the spoiler-effect, not a lot, but there is a little bit of a background worry,” says Dalmia 

Dennis DarnoiJake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Dennis Darnoi

Dennis Darnoi, a Republican political consultant who tracks voter data, describes Amash as an independent thinker who isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers. “He’s done a great job of highlighting inconsistencies or hypocrisies in Republican politics in terms of the policies they’ve adopted,” says Darnoi.

He says Amash has garnered attention for his willingness to call things out he doesn’t believe in. Darnoi says, being from Michigan, Amash has the potential to really impact a key swing state. The question, according to Darnoi, will be if Amash takes votes from Biden or Trump in key counties in Michigan. 


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