West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who wields significant influence within the Democratic party, made an appearance at an event hosted by a political group exploring a third-party presidential bid. This has sparked speculation that Manchin might consider running for the presidency—a scenario that concerns Democrats, as it could potentially weaken President Joe Biden’s candidacy.
No Labels Event and Potential Presidential Bid
Manchin participated in a town hall meeting organized by the group No Labels, where he shared the stage with Jon Huntsman, the former Republican governor of Utah. The event marked the release of No Labels’ “Common Sense” policy platform, the first in a series of events as the 2024 presidential election takes shape.
The 75-year-old senator, facing re-election next year, has not ruled out running for the presidency instead of seeking another term in the Senate. However, polling suggests that a bipartisan and centrist ticket, if pursued by Manchin, would likely face significant challenges and draw voters away from Biden, potentially diminishing his chances of success. Democratic groups have been actively working to discourage third-party spoiler candidates, warning that it could ultimately benefit former President Donald Trump.
No Labels Platform and Manchin’s Stance
During the town hall event, the moderator questioned Manchin and Huntsman about whether they were the No Labels presidential ticket. Manchin deflected the question, emphasizing the need for more options in the political landscape. He expressed his belief that the two major parties had shifted too far to the extremes and suggested that threatening their positions through independent candidates could encourage them to reconsider their platforms.
When asked if he would reconsider his candidacy if it risked acting as a spoiler in the presidential race, Manchin rejected the premise, asserting that he enters races to win. While he received applause for his response, he clarified that he has not made a final decision about his potential candidacy.
Manchin’s Influence and No Labels’ Support
As one of the most conservative Democrats and a pivotal swing vote in the Senate, Manchin has previously acted as a potential spoiler to Biden’s goals. He has blocked climate change initiatives, criticized Biden’s policies, and impeded the administration’s legislative efforts.
No Labels views Manchin as a potential candidate aligned with its centrist platform. Politico reported that Manchin participated in at least one conference call with the group. While No Labels has stated it will not field a candidate if their platform fails to gain traction or if it appears it would disproportionately favor one party, the organization has actively raised funds and seeks to secure ballot access across the country.
Concerns and Polling Data
Polling suggests that the presence of a third-party candidate would pose a threat to Democrats. Several surveys conducted over the past few months indicate that the inclusion of a third-party candidate, such as Manchin or progressive activist Cornel West, would shift vote percentages in favor of Republicans in a contest between Biden and Trump. A recent poll commissioned by strategists from both parties revealed that the presence of a “moderate, independent third-party candidate” could gain around 20% of the vote, potentially leading to an electoral victory for Trump.
No Labels’ Funding and Controversy
While No Labels has promoted its vision of centrist governance, it has remained silent about the sources of its funding. An investigation by Mother Jones revealed numerous wealthy contributors, many of whom supported conservative and Republican causes. Additionally, The New Republic reported that Harlan Crow, a conservative billionaire and supporter of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, donated over $130,000 to the group.
As the political landscape evolves and the 2024 presidential election approaches, Joe Manchin’s potential presidential bid and the impact of third-party candidates continue to be subjects of intense discussion and concern within the Democratic party.