With 16 months left until the 2024 election, there are already indications that it may resemble the conditions that led to Donald Trump’s surprising victory in 2016. The electoral college map looks similar, with red states remaining red and blue states staying blue. Both major candidates are facing low approval ratings and there is widespread dissatisfaction with the choices offered by the major parties. This opens up the possibility of a third-party candidate drawing enough votes away from one of the major candidates in critical states, potentially tipping the electoral college in favor of Trump or Biden.
The Green Party, in particular, has the potential to disrupt the race once again. Activist Cornel West is running for the Green Party nomination, and his name recognition and media appeal make him a significant threat to Biden. West has criticized Biden’s role in the 1994 crime bill, accusing him of contributing to a “crime against humanity” and highlighting the negative impact of the mass incarceration regime. He has also raised concerns about Biden’s cognitive abilities, which could resonate with voters.
West’s ability to tap into liberal dissatisfaction with Biden’s presidency, particularly among Democratic voting blocs, is a cause for concern among Democrats. David Axelrod, former chief strategist for Barack Obama, warns that the Green Party, with West as their likely nominee, could play a significant role in tipping the election to Trump, just as they did in 2016. Even if West’s national vote total remains low, his performance in key battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania could have a decisive impact.
In addition to the Green Party, the No Labels party is also a potential threat. Joe Manchin, a prominent Democrat, is being mentioned as a possible No Labels candidate. While conventional wisdom suggests that Manchin would draw more votes from Trump, the states where he attracts those votes could be crucial. Manchin’s long-standing presence in the Democratic Party might attract some Democratic voters who are dissatisfied with Biden. In a close race in a battleground state, Manchin could pull enough Democratic votes away from Biden to give Trump an advantage.
Considering the electoral college still favors Republicans despite the Democrats’ advantage in big states, the potential influence of third-party candidates like West and Manchin is a source of stress for the Biden campaign. The possibility of another third-party candidate affecting the outcome of the election is a reminder of the unpredictable nature of American politics and the need for the major parties to address voter concerns and dissatisfaction.