Cornel West, a prominent academic and civil rights leader with ties to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has already launched a bid for the Green Party ticket. As Biden seeks to fend off this threat to his left, Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) has flirted with a presidential bid with the No Labels group that Democrats fear could deprive Biden of moderate votes.
While the president’s re-election team has preached confidence, some Democratic officials and strategists worry that the urgency to vote for Biden has dissipated for some voters since Trump left the White House. They are concerned that young people, in particular, may be receptive to West’s message. surveys have also shown that most younger Democratic primary voters do not want Biden to be re-nominated, largely because of his age. Although his aides insist he is in great physical and mental shape, he is also 80 years old, the oldest president in history.
“Third parties can get enough votes for Donald Trump to win,” said Celinda Lake, a pollster for Biden in 2020. “Not only do you have No Labels, but you have Cornel West, who I think is very formidable in the black community as well and among young people. And I think there were a lot of people, young people, disaffected people, who were willing to vote against Trump, anybody who wasn’t Trump, to beat Trump. But that argument has worn a little thin with some of these unhappy voters in 2024.”
A number of polls, both nationally and in swing states, have found a dead heat between Trump and Biden in recent weeks, a reminder that the race for the White House will likely once again be decided by the narrowest of margins. little ones
Trump’s latest indictment this week also underscored the stakes of the upcoming election for many Democrats, who fear not only that he will try to stop the multiple investigations he faces if he wins, but that the entire democratic experiment would be In danger.
“I think fundamentally you don’t mess with the kind of higher stakes that we are [dealing] with,” said the senator. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) in an interview when asked about West. “Can you imagine what a second Trump term would be like? It’s going to be all about revenge.”
The Biden world has been monitoring West and No Labels. But those closest to Biden believe Stein’s recall — and the possibility of another Trump presidency — will prevent a third-party candidate from garnering much support in 2024.
For those who want the president re-elected, West is perhaps the most worrisome of the third-party candidates and potential candidates.
In June, he dismissed the idea that he might take votes away from Biden, saying that “when someone decides to vote for you, you’re not taking votes away. You see, Biden doesn’t have a vote. He has to earn it.”
But some Democrats fear that exact outcome. Along with discontent among young voters, they worry about Republican inroads with black men in the 2020 election and note that some black voters have expressed displeasure with the White House’s inability to secure new legislation on voting rights or widespread student debt relief. It wouldn’t take much, a little worry, for West to make an impact if he took enough Democratic votes in key cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia or Milwaukee.
“This election could be a game of inches, so I have to believe that the president’s people are not taking anything for granted,” said Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager in 2016. “They know that every vote has to win every time. But there’s a lot of troubling data out there, and it’s going to take a full court press by people with proven success to send messages to those parts of Biden’s electoral coalition that have expressed a lack of real enthusiasm.”
In a sign of how seriously some Democrats are taking the issue, alumni of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC launched a new hybrid political action committee last month. It was a tacit acknowledgment that work is needed, especially to improve the party’s numbers with black men.
According to two people familiar with the plan, there is a push among CBC members to start raiding now to avoid panic next fall. There is also a belief among CBC members that the push to elect the first black Speaker, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, would also be a motivator for black voters.
“Let’s face it, black people know there are two choices in this election,” said Congressional Black Caucus PAC chairman Rep. Gregory Meeks (DN.Y.), who praised Biden’s record while contrasting him with “MAGA Republicans who debate the benefits of slavery, ban books, women’s access to abortion, and threaten our most precious right to vote.”
“With all of this at stake, we will not allow black voters to be misled by a sideshow that can only dilute our power and reverse our progress,” Meeks said.
Many Biden advisers play down the threat West poses to alienate black voters, pointing to Biden’s record in appointing both the first black vice president and Supreme Court justice. They also note low black unemployment rates.
What’s more, they believe liberals would not be tempted to deviate again next year after seeing the fallout from 2016: mainly, four years of Trump. The sense among Biden’s advisers is that voters know the stakes are too high to vote for someone who has no chance of winning.
They also think the situation is fundamentally different between now and 2016. Back then, Stein, as well as Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, gained momentum after a contentious primary between Sanders and Clinton, when some of the Vermont senator’s supporters they refused to support the Democratic Candidate. There isn’t an equally bitter dynamic this time around, they argue. Liberal leaders like Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) are behind Biden.
“Moderates, progressives, climate groups, [reproductive] groups, workers and young people have rallied around Joe Biden,” said Cristóbal Alex, Biden’s former assistant White House cabinet secretary.
Biden advisers believe West could abandon his quixotic mission, although lobbying efforts by some close to the academic to get him to drop out of the race have so far proven ineffective, according to two people in the which were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about them. private conversations.
Asked for comment, West said, “I have no plans to leave my campaign.”
Meanwhile, No Labels has proven to be effective in raising money.
But many close to Biden simply say they are taking the word of the group and leaders like Manchin who don’t want to spoil Trump and that if they don’t have a path to 270 Electoral College votes, they won’t go. through a career.
“As the economic news continues to improve,” the senator said. Chris Coons (D-Del.), one of Biden’s top allies, “as the bitter fight between a dozen Republican primary candidates sharpens and the Biden-Harris team continues to deliver on the things they care about to Americans, from rebuilding our manufacturing, lowering prescription drug prices and millions of good jobs: I believe potential challengers will fade away and the case to re-elect President Biden and Vice Pres. Harris will get stronger.”
While third-party candidates may prove problematic for Biden, there are few concerns among Democrats about his primary declared rivals. Biden effectively controls the Democratic National Committee: There are no scheduled Democratic primary debates and little chance of anyone else being the party’s nominee in 2024.
The Biden campaign, in its public comments, is already focusing on the general election and blasting “extremist” Republican candidates.
“President Biden and Vice President Harris are already working hard to assemble the broad and diverse coalition they will need to defeat MAGA’s dangerous and divisive agenda and finish the job for the American people,” the campaign spokesman said , TJ Ducklo.
On the Democratic side, self-help guru Marianne Williamson has barely mounted a campaign. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmentalist and vaccine skeptic who recently came under fire for making anti-Semitic comments, has seen his approval ratings among Democrats plummet and questions swirl about whether he is being quietly supported by conservatives.
Rep. Dean Phillips, a moderate from Minnesota, is also meeting with donors to discuss a possible primary run against Biden. The deputy still has to take concrete steps to mount a candidacy, but, in a text, he confirmed that he is considering it.
Asked about Phillips, Fetterman summed up the relative lack of concern among many of Biden’s supporters as of now: “LOL, and you can print it.”
Myah Ward contributed to this report.