In 2023, Joe Manchin Is a Pain for the Democrats. In 2024, They Fear He's Their Greatest Threat.

Technically, if you look at the Chinese calendar, 2024 is supposed to be the Year of the Dragon. For the Democrats, however, it may just become the year of the rat from West Virginia.


With a narrow Senate majority that only slightly grew after the 2022 midterms, the Democrats have been stymied by their own side as much as the Republicans. Throughout 2022 and 2023, Joe Manchin let everyone in his party be known that he, not Joe Biden, was in charge, and it led to some of the most fun bickering within the Democratic Party since Hilary Clinton stole the nomination from Bernie Sanders.

In 2023, however, some very important things happened that make 2024 an even bigger headache for the incumbent Democrat president, Joe Biden, and the rest of his party.

It would appear that Manchin got screwed in some of the concessions he got in exchange for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act. In turn, he has started lashing out in new and exciting ways. He has basically vowed to oppose Biden’s choice for Labor Secretary. He has praised Kevin McCarthy while blasting Joe Biden. And he’s also started touring Iowa to tout his record of being a straight-shootin’ common sense guy.

As of last week, he was doing the same thing in New Hampshire, at an event held by the “No Labels” movement that’s started growing.

Joe Manchin, potential 2024 candidate?
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

“No Labels” is a movement among old, out-of-touch Democrats as well as Republican consultants who no longer get a seat at the tables of power. It is, first and foremost, an anti-Trump group. After that, it’s pretty much just people who want to be Democrats without being ultra-progressive in the way the rest of the party is. In other words, they’re really just serial liars.


It seems that they are worried Trump is going to be the Republican nominee and could even win in the general election. As such, they are looking at what they would call more sane approaches and they have settled on Manchin, who is their… whatever the Democrat equivalent of John McCain’s “maverick” would be.

Well, POLITICO’s Playbook has some reaction from Democrats regarding this potential Manchin 2024 moment, and it’s not terribly kind.

“Joe is America’s biggest political tease,” Senate Majority Whip DICK DURBIN (D-Ill.) told The Hill. “And I trust that he’ll make a judgment to run for reelection in West Virginia. I hope he will.”

Of course, there’s an open question about whether No Labels has much of a constituency for its almost quaint middle-of-the-road policy prescriptions, which it officially rolls out today. The group has talked about the need to cut Social Security and find a “balance” on abortion access. It has blasted the Biden administration for releasing asylum-seekers into the country — yet proposed a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants. It wants to stop discrimination against transgender people, but also limit gender education for young children.

As the NYT wrote this weekend, the group “has something for everyone to embrace — and just as much for both sides to reject.”


The Democrats have every reason to fear an independent party run from Manchin, and they believe that a “Ross Perot Effect” could sink Biden’s campaign.

But that would ultimately be just an excuse for Biden’s failure. There is evidence out there that actually suggests the “Ross Perot Effect” is, at best exaggerated. Exit polling showed his voters split between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton as their second choice, suggesting Bush was destined to lose no matter what. But it’s something, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out in 2019, that we may never know for sure.

Joe Manchin and No Labels are really just Schrodinger’s Party. They exist while not existing. They are a thing that is happening in politics and, yet, they really aren’t, except in the minds of, strangely, the media and Democrats. They have no base, no appeal, and no chance. And most of the people affiliated should know that. But they either pretend they don’t or they are so blinded by their own personal grudges that they don’t care.

Joe Manchin has been trolling his party since Biden got into office because he knew he had a considerable amount of power as a (relative) moderate in a sea of progressives. He’s just continuing that game while not saying he’s not running for re-election in West Virginia – a state where his hold on power is slipping. If he wants to, he could announce for either race right now, but that effectively shuts down his ability to take part in the public discussion on whichever one he doesn’t run for.


And, if he were to run for President – which I feel almost certain he’s not going to do – he knows good and well that he’s not going to win. Two-thirds of the electorate minimum will vote for the Democrat or Republican in the race, and the remaining one-third will be split between him and whatever agent of unhinged chaos the Libertarian and Green Parties throw out there. He won’t have ballot access in every state and he won’t have the funds to make a big play.

All of that said… I am perfectly fine with the Democrats continuing to tear their hair out over Joe Manchin. It’s a bit fun to watch.


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