As Democrats fret about possible third-party bid by Manchin, new poll shows it would hurt Biden

Some Democrats believe Sen. Joe Manchin is unlikely to run for president and would instead run for reelection.

Published: June 22, 2023 11:48pm

Democrats' concerns about party member Sen. Joe Manchin joining the 2024 presidential race as an independent and taking votes from President Joe Biden appear real, a recent poll shows.

Manchin is considered a moderate. But as a Democrat in deeply conservative West Virginia, he has long been a wild card within his party – most recently having opposed some of Biden’s nominees and criticizing his green energy policies.

The senator has yet to say whether he will seek reelection in 2024 or run for president as an independent, which increasingly concerned some Senate Democrats.

Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) told Politico about a conversation he had with Manchin in the spring regarding running for president, saying, “I have advised him against it. I think it would be a terrible idea. It would help Donald Trump.”

According to the Scott Rasmussen National Survey of the 2024 presidential election, if Trump was the GOP nominee, 41% would vote for him, 42% would vote for Biden, 8% would vote for “some other candidate” and 9% “would not vote.”

However, if Manchin ran as an independent, 12% would vote for him, 37% for Trump, and 35% for Biden, while 4% wouldn’t vote and 12% answered “not sure.”

Similar results occurred when the names of GOP presidential candidates Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott were substituted in the poll for Trump's. The poll was conducted May 22-24 among 1,000 voters, with the margin of sampling error at +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Rasmussen told Just the News on Thursday that his poll shows Manchin joining the race “marginally hurts Biden more than the Republicans, which is why so many Democrats are trashing" the idea of Manchin running as a candidate for the No Labels political group. 

However, he emphasized that the election isn’t until November 2024, which is a long time for circumstances to change.

Rasmussen also said he was “surprised” by his poll showing support for Manchin “was essentially the same” against Trump, DeSantis and Scott, and pointed out the popularity of third-party candidates historically dwindles as Election Day nears.

No Labels has promised to promote a third-party candidate in 2024 if the election would be a rematch between Biden and former President Donald Trump.

The group’s CEO praised Manchin and pointed out he is an honorary co-chairman of the organization, but said it’s “too premature” to make a decision on a candidate.

Meanwhile, Manchin has questioned whether running on the No Labels ticket would take away Democrat votes, according to Politico.

“Then how did Perot get Bill Clinton elected?” he asked, referring to Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential run as an independent.

Perot’s third-party run in 1992, in which he highlighted Democrat nominee Bill Clinton’s criticism of then-President George H. W. Bush has often been cited as having contributed to Bush's defeat.


“Everybody’s getting so worked up and scared to death, and we’re a year and a half away,” Manchin recently said.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester said of his fellow Democrat senator, "You never know about Joe," but that his not seeking reelection to Congress would be "bad for the country."

Democrats have a one-seat majority in the Senate, with three independents caucusing with them, and they have 23 seats to defend in the 2024 general election.

Manchin won a special election to U.S. Senate in 2010 with 53% of the vote, then 61% in 2012.

In the 2018 election for his second full term, Manchin won 49.6% to Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s 46.3%. The senator has until January to file for reelection in his state.

A big, recently emerging factor in Manchin's decision-making is that popular West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is running for the GOP nomination of the state’s Senate seat, which would likely be a close race.

Trump won West Virginia in the 2016 presidential election 68.7% to Hillary Clinton’s 26.5%, then 68.6% in 2020 compared to Biden’s 29.7%.

Virginia Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine recently told Politico he has gut feeling "there’s still a really good likelihood that Joe’s gonna run for reelection."

He continued: "If Governor Justice thinks he’s gonna sweep Joe Manchin aside, I know that Joe Manchin is like, ‘Are you kidding me? No way.’”

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