The way the 2024 presidential race is shaping up, Biden needs to be far more concerned about his left flank than his right.
No Labels Party is sputtering into oblivion. They have no candidate and no platform except “anybody but Trump and maybe Biden.” Also, all the grandiose pronouncements about hundreds of millions of dollars being raised appear to be a mirage.
Nancy Jacobson is the co-chair of No Labels and has successfully thrown the fear of god into Democrats and the Biden campaign about a centrist challenge to the president. But they really needn’t worry. The biggest name being tossed around as a No Labels candidate is 76-year-old Senator Joe Manchin. And it’s not even certain that he’ll run if asked.
The biggest threat to Joe Biden is coming from the left. And given the expectation that the election is going to come down to a few hundred thousand votes in six or seven states, Biden can ill-afford to lose a vital constituency like young and college-educated liberal Democrats or the Muslim vote.
Young Democrats are steaming over Biden’s support for Israel in the war in Gaza. Muslims are also angry at the president for the same reason. Together, those votes in battleground states could cost Biden the election.
And if that’s not bad enough, Biden is bleeding black voters. The question becomes whether Black Americans, Muslims, and the young will turn to a third-party candidate like Robert F. Kennedy or even Cornel West or simply stay home.
Either way, Biden is cooked.
“People don’t understand how few votes [the third-party candidates] would need to take away,” said Lis Smith, the hard-charging Democratic operative who has recently signed on with the DNC, in part to grab voters by the lapels about the threat at hand. “It’s the whole election.”
Meanwhile, how many more polls do there have to be of Kennedy near double-digit votes in swing states before he’s taken seriously? And: how many Biden speeches must be shouted down until Democrats realize that a hot war in Gaza this fall may mean 30,000 fewer votes apiece in Madison, Dearborn and Ann Arbor and therefore the presidency?
It’s the left that presents the most acute peril to the president.
If Kennedy claims the Libertarian Party line, which he’s warming to, Jill Stein is the Green Party nominee and Cornel West gets on any battleground state ballots, they would combine to drain far more votes from Biden than from Trump. You wouldn’t think Democrats need much reminding of this scenario, given how many in their professional ranks lived through two campaigns, 2000 and 2016, in which they lost the electoral vote in part because of leftist spoilers.
Biden is so insulated that he’s not getting the message. He’s getting heckled by Palestinians at every stop but refuses to see the big picture that it’s not just Palestinians, but also young Democrats and liberal Democrats who believe Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.
“This is a disaster politically,” said a House Democrat at a dinner with colleagues.“The base is really pissed — and it’s not just the leftists. I have never seen such a depth of anguish as I’ve seen over this Gaza issue. Bibi is toxic among many Democratic voters and Biden must distance himself from him — yesterday.”
It’s still 10 months to the election, but it’s an open question whether Biden can mend fences with these groups before then. And even if he does, the attraction of a third-party candidate might still draw enough votes from him to give the election to Trump.