West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D) fueled further speculation about a possible third-party presidential run Sunday morning with comments he made to radio talk show host John Catsimatidis on WABC 770 AM in New York.
Speculation has been building that Manchin may attempt such a bid that could be funded by the No Labels group that has been pushing a potential “unity ticket” in 2024 consisting of one candidate from each party for the presidential and vice presidential slot. Manchin headlined a No Labels event with former Republican governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman (Utah) last month, which many considered to be a preview of the group’s potential presidential ticket.
Manchin appeared Sunday with No Labels founding chairman Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), who claimed that the group was not “motivated” to form a presidential candidate, but warned, “we hope that maybe the strength that we’re showing will be a message to the two parties to try to come back toward the center and, not to change what they think is right, but to begin to work together for the good of the country.”
Manchin, for his part, refused to downplay the suggestion of a No Labels ticket, saying, “All they’re asking for is ‘Do the citizens of the United States want some other options?’”
Manchin expounded on his thoughts in favor of No Labels by adding, “If you’re a Democrat, they expect you to villainize every Republican. And if you’re a Republican, you should villainize the Democrats. That’s not the way our founding fathers intended for this democracy to work. It was intended for us to work together.”
On the surface, there would seem to be an opportunity for a third party bid to make unusually large inroads with the American electorate. President Joe Biden, who is almost certain to secure the Democratic nomination for president, currently has very low job approval ratings in most polls. Meanwhile former President Donald Trump, who currently enjoys a hefty lead in the Republican primary polls, is likewise viewed unfavorably by a roughly similar margin among the general public.
However, even in 2016, when both Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton enjoyed low favorability ratings heading into the presidential election contests, third parties struggled to gain a meaningful foothold, with libertarians Gary Johnson and Bill Weld topping the field of would-be third-party candidates at a paltry 3.28% of the popular vote. It is unclear whether a hypothetical ticket consisting of Manchin and Huntsman would be able to gain more traction, and if so, which candidate they would be more likely to siphon votes from in the general.