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Larry Sabato predicts Joe Manchin's third-party run could benefit Trump

Joe Manchin would likely pull more votes from Biden than Trump.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin could potentially make a third-party run for president, and analysts believe he would likely draw more votes away from President Joe Biden than former President Donald Trump. Manchin, who presents himself as a centrist Democrat, has a voting record that leans towards moderate liberalism. While some Democrats may be displeased with certain votes, Republicans would likely find more reasons for disapproval. This suggests that Manchin has a greater chance of affecting the Electoral College outcome in favor of Trump. However, Manchin has publicly stated that he would not run if he believed his candidacy would reelect Trump, as he would be tarnished in history if such an outcome were to occur.

President Biden, meanwhile, has kicked off the 2024 election season with campaign stops in South Carolina. Recognizing the crucial role played by African American voters in his election victory, Biden expressed gratitude to the Democratic voters of South Carolina for their support. He emphasized their power to effect change and credited them as the driving force behind his presidency and Trump's defeat.

While Biden continues to rely on the support of black voters, there is no immediate concern that anything has changed for him. However, Biden would benefit from reestablishing the successful coalition he had in the 2020 election, which secured him a popular vote victory of over seven million. It should be noted that South Carolina itself traditionally favors Republican candidates in the general election, but Congressman Jim Clyburn's endorsement of Biden during the Democratic primary was instrumental in reviving his campaign.

Meanwhile, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who hails from South Carolina, has been critical of Trump as she campaigns in her home state. By challenging Trump in the race and ramping up attacks on his behavior, Haley aims to distract him and keep him engaged, as Trump has shown a tendency to react defensively to criticism. While Haley is unlikely to close the gap with Trump in South Carolina or nationally, her presence provides an alternative for those who have reservations about the Trump MAGA movement. It also gives donors a reason to continue funding her campaign.

Ultimately, it is still early in the election cycle and both Biden and Haley have ample time, approximately nine months, to solidify their respective support bases and build their coalitions. The election is not imminent, offering both candidates the opportunity to strategize and appeal to various constituencies.

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