On Thursday West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin announced that he would not seek reelection in 2024. To me this is a, good news, slightly bad news and possibly really bad (in a complicating way) news situation. Read on and I’ll explain.
First the good news; or at least what I perceive to be good news. Had Joe Manchin run the Democratic money people would have been faced with a tough call. (I’m thinking it may have already been made behind the scenes and it didn’t go in Manchin’s favor.) A little background on that point below.
Manchin would not have been the favorite in his race against presumably Jim Justice. Justice, being a recent turncoat, would have solidified establishment Democratic support behind Manchin but that is far from enough to ensure victory in deep red West Virginia. With Manchin out the Democrats can allocate the money they would have spent in West Virginia to other states. The reality is that the 2024 “map” has many vulnerable Democratic incumbents who will need “monetary protection”.
The slightly bad news is that without Manchin West Virginia looks almost certain to be a Republican pickup. The mitigating factor is that they probably would have picked it up anyway.
The real question mark that remains could be the truly bad news for the Democrats, the country and democracy. Will Manchin run for the presidency on some sort of, (most likely No Labels), third party ticket? Manchin can’t possibly win. In fact, I doubt he could take any electoral votes including West Virginia’s. What he could possibly do is syphon enough votes away from Joe Biden in a key state(s) to throw them to Donald Trump. Let’s say in a head-to-head Biden wins a state 50.1% to 49.9%. That is a very real scenario in one or more states. Now let’s make it a three-way race. Trump still gets 49.9%, Manchin gets .3% leaving Biden with 49.8% and losing all the state’s electoral votes. If that happens in one or more states it could make the difference or throw the election into the House of Representatives where the Republicans control more state delegations (each has a lone vote in this case).
Should Manchin run for president the Democrats, who under Biden haven’t been great at messaging, will need to do a huge voter education effort to convince voters that effectively a vote for Manchin is a vote for Trump. I realize that many voters have issues with both of the presumed major party candidates but casting a vote for any third party candidate doesn’t solve the problem. The reality is that it will be a binary choice and at that point I think the choice is crystal clear!
For now, Manchin is being cute as to his plans. I wouldn’t doubt he is using this as leverage and/or looking for the best deal for himself.
As a side note it appears a serious effort is underway to get an abortion related issue on the November 2024 ballot in Florida which represents one of the few (and I’m stretching a bit here) 2024 Democratic senate pickup possibilities. Rick Scott has many enemies in the GOP establishment and in purple Florida he could be vulnerable with a huge Democratic leaning turnout.
Stay tuned; Manchin’s retirement announcement notwithstanding, this story is far from over!
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