I’m rankings wrangler Drew Goins, and this is Round 62. After a bye week of wound-licking from last round’s pundit accountability ranking, our rankers are back to opine on the election’s biggest spoiler threats. Who could insert themselves into the race to make or break it for Joe Biden or President Trump? Will Elon Musk’s tantrums over quarantine push him into a run, or will he be too busy with X Æ A-12? Or might a certain also-ran Democrat make unexpected waves that rock the results? Read on to find out.

— Drew Goins

Rep. Justin Amash

We know there’s an anti-Trump majority in this country, but what if a handful of those who can’t vote for Trump prove deeply reluctant to back Joe Biden? Amash might give them a third option — a way to vote against Trump that could ultimately help him. This week’s Monmouth poll has Biden ahead 50 to 41, but with Amash, it’s only 47 to 40. This is before the inevitable hundreds of millions in GOP attack ads, which will render Biden unacceptable to more undecided voters. Plus, Amash could do decently in his home state of Michigan, a must-win for Biden. Already, Biden’s lead is likely slimmer than polls suggest. That will keep tightening, making Amash a huge risk that Trump foes can’t afford.

— Greg Sargent

I’ve got to go with Amash. I think it’s debatable whether he siphons more support from Biden or Trump. My guess and my fear, though, is that he marginally hurts Biden. Probably not enough to change the result, but given the closeness of the 2016 election (especially in Michigan, Amash’s home state), we should assume there is no room for error. The more this election is a binary choice, the more it becomes a referendum on Trump. And that’s what Democrats should want.

— Eugene Robinson

Jesse “The Body” Ventura

Henry Olsen already made this case well in April: The former pro wrestler and Minnesota governor is a big personality, and he’s ideologically flexible enough to grab burn-it-down Sanderistas and blue-collar swing voters who are weakly attached to both parties. I’ve got nothing to add to Henry’s case!

— David Byler

Sen. Bernie Sanders

No, the Democratic Party’s apparently second-favorite 70-something probably won’t leap back into the race himself. But supporters might drag him there just by writing him in on the ballot. Many feel they were robbed of the chance for a real primary by the pandemic, and many also feel that Tara Reade’s assault allegation against Biden ought to be an opportunity for a do-over.

— Molly Roberts

Mark Cuban

He has been increasingly commenting on public issues and would make an interesting choice for the non-Trump, non-Biden voter. He’s also got the money to make his points and, should he get up to 15 percent, would probably do very well in debates against two less-than-articulate septuagenarians.

— Henry Olsen

Republican governors — as endorsers

The Republican executives most effective in their coronavirus response are a small but powerful voice in the GOP dissenting from Trump’s rush to reopen the economy, embrace of quack theories and efforts to downplay the severity of the pandemic. Should Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker publicly reject endorsing the president or even support Biden, it may open the floodgates for Republicans disillusioned by Trump’s performance to abandon him in November. While Hogan and Baker have previously distanced themselves from Trump, an actual endorsement of Biden would be earth-shaking. Likewise, a traditional conservative such as DeWine could well signal preparation for the end of the Trump era should he decline to endorse a sitting president of his own party.

— Jennifer Rubin

Sen. Ed Markey

When Markey (D-Mass.) gets booted by the Kennedys as a time-wasting, do-nothing senator, it will be his chance to run as the Green Party’s real-deal Green New Deal messiah. Then, after November, he can join the right investment bank selling carbon credits and next-generation solar panels — a career that will only be enhanced by scrubbing the primary loss off with the Brillo pad of a presidential run.

— Hugh Hewitt


My sense is that this is a year in which no real spoiler will emerge. Trump is so well defined in the mind of the electorate and people are so eager to weigh in on him — pro or con — that there is very little political bandwidth for third parties this time. The total third-party vote was 5.7 percent in 2016 and 3.7 percent in 2000, when Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader arguably cost Al Gore the election. Those were the two most “spoiled” elections in recent times, and my guess is the third-party vote will be smaller this time, as it was in the last two incumbent reelection races, 2004 and 2012. It may revert all the way to the 2004 Bush-Kerry level, which was only 1 percent.

— Charles Lane

This is simply not that kind of year. Partisans on both sides are too deeply dug in. For a spoiler to get any traction requires a significant degree of ambivalence about the two major candidates, and that is not likely to be the case in November.

— Karen Tumulty

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next round. Until then, try to use up that third gallon of milk you hoarded — we don’t need two things spoiled.

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