The Story That Won’t Die — A Third Party Challenge in 2024
Author: Greg Valliere
July 13, 2023
THE MEDIA IS LOOKING FOR A HORSE RACE to cover, and the most interesting story now is that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat, might run as an alternative. Manchin has stirred the pot again this week, after agreeing to appear in New Hampshire next Monday at an event sponsored by the centrist group “No Labels.”
MANCHIN IS LUKEWARM ABOUT RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION to his Senate seat next year, when his term expires. He’s the clear underdog in conservative West Virginia, so a presidential run appeals to him. “I haven’t ruled out anything or ruled in anything,” Manchin said yesterday.
THE “NO LABELS” group is raising money and reaching out to centrists — angering mainstream Democrats who fear that a serious challenge could throw the presidency to Trump.
MANCHIN PUSHES BUTTONS THAT APPEAL TO MODERATES: “It’s clear that most Americans are exceedingly frustrated by the growing divide in our political parties and the toxic political rhetoric from our elected leaders,” Manchin said in a statement provided by No Labels. “Our political discourse is lacking engaged debates around common sense solutions to solve the issues facing our nation.”
MANCHIN WILL BE JOINED at the New Hampshire event by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former senator Joe Lieberman; former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory (R); former congressman Fred Upton (R-Mich.); and former congressman Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.).
TO COMPLICATE THIS NARRATIVE, Biden is losing altitude rapidly among Washington insiders, largely because of his frailty and unwillingness to accept his son Hunter’s paternity of a young girl — suddenly a serious issue that has damaged him badly among opinion leaders like Maureen Dowd of the New York Times. Biden’s image wasn’t helped by reports this week that he has a volcanic and profane temper, contrasting with the “Uncle Joe” image he has cultivated.
TRUMP, MEANWHILE, IS STUCK IN THE MID-40S in polls for the general election, and it appears unlikely that he can capture enough moderates and independents to win next November.
SO A THIRD PARTY OPTION could gain traction, and there are other obstacles for Biden: Prof. Cornell West, who will appeal to some leftists and African-Americans, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., taking votes from Biden in the Democrats’ primaries. Marianne Williamson could win some votes, although her campaign is in disarray.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s difficult to see Manchin having a realistic chance of winning the presidency (his family’s ties to energy polluters would become a major issue). But he’s a skilled performer on TV and preaches a message of centrism that appeals to many voters. If Manchin wins 15-20 percent in the general election in states like Ohio, Biden would be in real trouble.
THE GAME-CHANGER, OF COURSE, would be if Biden dropped out of the race. His energy level was alarmingly low in Europe this week, once again raising the key issue of the campaign: are voters prepared to elect someone who would be 86 years old at the end of his second term?
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