Third-party candidates are causing concern among top Democrats like Joe Biden, and they could help the Republicans secure the White House in 2024.
The United States’ two-party system can be thrown into disarray when prominent third party activists throw their hat in the ring; Libertarian Ross Perot in 1992 and Green Party candidate Jill Stein in 2016 are two notable examples of large support costing the incumbent party its bid to retain the control of the White House.
In the case of the latter, Stein drew more votes in three swing states than the amount by which Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in those areas.
Had the Democrats won these states – Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – Clinton would have secured the 270 votes required for the presidency.
Top Democrats, including those closely connected to President Joe Biden, are now working to ensure the same scenario is not repeated in 2024.
Cornel West could split the vote for Joe Biden
Two groups are already threatening to take away votes from the Democrats in must-win states.
While officially downplaying the possibility of lost votes, Democrat strategists remain concerned over West’s support in battleground states.
Younger voters towards the left remain a key problem for the party. With more Democrats preferring a younger candidate in place of the 80-year-old Biden, those discontent with the incumbent may opt to vote against their party in order to send a message.
West is unfazed by the prospect of helping the Republicans take the White House through splitting the traditional Democratic vote.
“When somebody chooses to vote for you, you’re not pulling votes away. You see, Biden doesn’t own any votes. He’s got to earn it,” West said in June.
Celinda Lake, a pollster for Biden in 2020, told Politico that the “anybody but Trump” argument has “worn a little thin,” suggesting disaffected voters may opt for a third party instead.
The No Labels
Another prominent group causing headaches for the Democrats are the No Labels.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has repeatedly refused to rule out running for the presidency with his six-year term set to end next year.
His persistent flirtation with the No Labels group has caused three Democrat colleagues – Senators John Hickenlooper, Gary Peters, and Jon Tester – to publicly urge Manchin against a presidential campaign, instead encouraging him to seek re-election to the Senate in what would otherwise be an easy pick-up for the GOP.
Should Manchin decide to run for the highest office in the land, he could pick up votes from moderate voters’ discontent with two major parties yet put off by the left-wing West.
Ultimately, if Republicans can unite behind their candidate in a better fashion than the Democrats, a repeat of 2016 could well and truly be on the cards.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.