November 14, 2023

Joe Manchin

“Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a maverick who has often bucked party leadership in the past two years, said on Thursday that he will not seek re-election, hurting Democrats' chance of defending their thin Senate majority in the 2024 election. ‘I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate, but what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together,’ Manchin said in a statement…

“Manchin earlier this year flirted publicly with leaving the Democratic Party, and appeared in July at an event with the ‘No Labels’ group, where he discussed the possibility of having a third-party candidate run for president in 2024. Polling shows dissatisfaction with the current leading White House candidates, incumbent Biden and Republican frontrunner Trump.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left argues that Manchin is unlikely to win the presidency as a third-party candidate.

“It’s very late in the game to raise the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to run a winning national campaign… even Manchin’s supporters note that he’s not the most enthusiastic fundraiser in politics… [And No Labels], which has been raising money and laboring to qualify an as-yet-unnamed candidate for the presidential ballot has stalled in the effort, securing access in only 12 states…

“Manchin has a career of being effective. He’s delivered to West Virginia — and to Democrats and Republicans — seeking compromise in the Senate. He runs to win; negotiates to achieve realistic, pragmatic victories. But 270 votes in the Electoral College?… I just don’t see creditable political math that helps Joe Manchin win.”

Steve Israel, The Hill

As far as third-party candidates go, “Manchin would seem to be a particularly unlikely candidate to truly catch on. While he’s somewhat popular among Republicans, YouGov polling this summer showed his unfavorable rating twice as high as his favorable rating, both overall and among independents. A recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute showed negative views about four times as high; just 1 in 10 Americans liked him, and only 1 percent had a ‘very’ favorable opinion.”

Aaron Blake, Washington Post

“Manchin should think hard about where to find ‘the middle’ in our politics right now. Some hints: It’s not the midpoint between a center-left Democratic Party and an increasingly right-wing Republican Party… Republicans have moved much further right than the Democrats have moved left…

“[Pew Research Center data for this year] found that among Republicans and independents who lean Republican, 63 percent called themselves conservative, while 32 percent identified as moderate and 3 percent as liberal. For Democrats and those who lean Democratic, the figures were 46 percent liberal, 45 percent moderate and 8 percent conservative…

“A separate Pew study of members of Congress found that since the 1970s, Democrats have become ‘somewhat more liberal,’ while Republicans ‘on average have become much more conservative.’ Public Religion Research Institute data for partisans alone showed that while only 21 percent of Republicans picked a label other than conservative, 39 percent of Democrats chose an allegiance other than liberal.”

E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post

From the Right

The right argues that Manchin would be a formidable third-party presidential candidate.

The right argues that Manchin would be a formidable third-party presidential candidate.

“The Republicans and Democrats are both headed toward nominating two of the most unpopular politicians in America. The challenges they face are unique and unavoidable. Donald Trump will be running under a cloud of pending convictions that every poll indicates will render him toxic to independent voters. Joe Biden will be doddering through an election where it often seems he has no idea where he is at any given moment…

“The typical reasons that prevent politicians from running on a third-party line simply don’t apply to Manchin. Rather than have to go through the heavy task of gaining ballot access, he has the well-funded No Labels effort waiting eagerly for him…

“And unlike most third party candidates, Manchin has a real shot at being more than a protest vote. For the last true independent-minded moderate in the Democratic Party, it should be an easy choice: he has every reason to run.”

Ben Domenech, Spectator World

“When elites pine for a third-party candidate, they usually imagine someone like Michael Bloomberg, a fiscal conservative and social liberal. But the sweet spot for a third-party candidate has always been slightly left of center on economics and moderate to conservative on cultural issues — and that describes Manchin better than it does most American politicians…

“The West Virginian could run, authentically, as an unwoke supporter of universal health care, fiscal restraint and a middle ground on guns and abortion. That’s a better basis for a run than Bloombergism or Kennedy’s courtship of the fringes, with a chance of claiming votes from Never Trumpers and the center left.”

Ross Douthat, New York Times

“The reality is that there will be more than one third-party candidate in 2024 no matter what Mr. Manchin or No Labels do. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is already running as an independent, professor Cornel West is vowing to run too, and this week Jill Stein said she’ll make another Green Party run. They all could bleed votes from Mr. Biden, though RFK Jr. might also hurt Mr. Trump…

“If Democrats don’t want to take that risk, they can face the reality that Mr. Biden may be the only candidate other than Vice President Kamala Harris who could lose to Mr. Trump. They could urge the President to withdraw and focus on winning two wars. But if they won’t do that, they should be prepared to enjoy the Joe Manchin experience they have done so much to make possible.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

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