Shaping the Political Race

Will Joe Manchin become the next U.S. president?

The divisive America of today longs for the time when the country united in one mission and selected a leader it could trust to accomplish the mission. The year is 1940 and the New York Times estimates that incumbent president, Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. (FDR), a non-declared and drafted candidate for the Democratic Party (D) nomination, will have 691.5 delegates before the convention, well ahead of his two rivals, Vice-President John Garner’s 69.5 delegates and Postmaster General James Farley’s 38.5.delegates. At the convention, FDR wins the nomination on the first ballot by near acclamation.

Before the Republican (GOP) convention, only 300 of the 1,000 convention delegates have pledged to candidates, New York Governor John Dewey, Ohio Senator, Robert Taft, and corporate lawyer, Wendell Willkie, all qualified candidates and well-liked persons of integrity. On the sixth ballot, the GOP selects Wendell Willkie, a longtime Democratic activist who changed his party registration to Republican in late 1939, is the most progressive Republican, and the only candidate who favors Roosevelt’s interventionist policy.

Adored FDR wins the 1940 election with 449 electoral votes to Wendell Willkie’s 82 votes. A united America enters World War II (WWII) and emerges united, but not for long. Without an FDR and a Wendell Wilkie, the United States cannot prevent the Cold War, the Middle East strife, the Korean War, and the conflagrations that eventually emerge from post-WWII mishaps.

The 2024 presidential election has President Joe Biden facing former President Donald Trump. A major part of the electorate despises Biden, mainly because he represents a liberal autocracy they find patronizing and hypocritical. His subsidizing Israel’s destruction of the Palestinian people has alienated another segment of voters from his established base.

Donald Trump attracts those who despise others and has those others despise him. The only way either Biden or Trump can win the presidential race is when they are the only candidates. If it becomes conclusive that both Biden and Trump are the candidates, they will have challenges; West Virginia Senator, Joe Manchin, will join No Labels,  become a third Party candidate, and will win. The United States is prepared to enter the most contentious presidential race in its history, where no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes and the House of Representatives decides the election. Manchin may become president after finishing third and receiving only a handful of electoral votes ─ democracy at its best. How will this happen?

Senator Manchin will definitely win his state’s five electoral votes. In a super-tight race, that might be sufficient to prevent either of the major candidates from gaining a majority. ‘Swing states,” Arizona, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania are ready for an alternative candidate, and Michigan and Minnesota have shown they are not partisans to either Joe or Donald. By gaining victories in only one or two of these states, Senator Manchin might prevent any candidate from winning the election. In a 3-way race, state victory does not demand a majority vote, a plurality that has 35 to 40 percent of the vote can do the job.

The Ross Perot 1992 presidential campaign serves as a model for the next presidential campaign. Running as a total unknown against two experienced and capable politicians, Perot quickly gathered adherents and within 5 months of the election led the two other candidates. The final tally gave Perot 18.7 percent of the popular vote, which was unusually large considering that the Texas businessperson ran a dysfunctional campaign and had a moribund Admiral James Stockdale as his running mate. Examine several factors and they indicate that Manchin can exceed Perot’s efforts by a wide margin:

·         Perot was a relatively unknown businessperson. Manchin is an experienced legislator and winning politician.

·         Perot ran a disorganized campaign. Manchin knows how to organize a campaign.

·         Perot selected a sleepy running mate who harmed his candidacy. Manchin knows better.

·         Perot ran against two popular politicians who had Party support. Manchin will run against two unpopular politicians, who have limited Party support.

With the House of Representatives deciding the presidential election, neither Biden nor Trump can win, and only Manchin can win.

Stating that the House of Representatives decides the presidential election is misleading. The states and their congressional representatives make the decision. The representatives in each state vote for their preferred candidate, which must be one of the three leading candidates in the disputed election. Each state, regardless of its number of Representatives, gets one vote and 26 state votes are required to elect a candidate, This is different than if each Representative was allowed to vote. In that case, where the GOP has a majority, a Republican, and most likely Trump, would be chosen. After the 2023 election, the Dems had a majority of Representatives in 22 states; the GOP had a majority of Representatives in 26 states and the Parties tied in two states.

Biden has no chance; none of the GOP-dominated states will vote for him and he cannot obtain 26 state votes. If all of the 26 states, in which the GOP has a majority, vote for the same candidate then Trump will undoubtedly win. That is not likely to happen; Kelly Armstrong is the only congressperson from North Dakota and Randy Johnson is the only congressperson from South Dakota.  Neither Representative is inclined to favor Trump. In three states — Arizona. Ohio, and Georgia, —Republicans have slight majorities. If only two Republicans in any one of these states refuse to endorse Trump, the former president will not receive 26 state votes.

For electing the vice-president, each Senator votes his/her preference from the two candidates receiving the most electoral votes. If, by the January 20th inauguration date, no candidate wins 26 state votes, the vice president-elect becomes president. If the Senate fails to select a vice-president, then the speaker of the House becomes president. Go through the voting cycles and we see why Manchin will win.

In the first round of voting, the 22 Democrat states will vote for Biden; the two tied states will remain tied and have a null vote; most GOP states will vote for Trump, some may vote for Manchin, and some may be deadlocked. The Dakotas will either vote for Manchin or not vote. No candidate will receive 26 state votes.

In the second round, the GOP states will realize they need to unify and select a president. If they don’t make a selection, the vice-president selected by the Senate, Biden’s running mate, will become president. Because the Senate votes for the vice-president and the present Senate has 51 Democratic Senators, the Dem will become vice-president, and eventually president.

The smallest states, the Dakotas and its two Representatives, will decide the outcome of the most vital election on the planet. They will vote for Manchin and the other GOP states will have a choice between Manchin and no candidate, which means the chosen Democratic vice-president will become president. They certainly don’t want the latter.

Another negative for the major candidates, which equates to a positive for Joe Manchin, is Robert Kennedy Jr’s candidacy. Lack of eloquence, charisma, audience connection, and ability to smile inhibit Kennedy Jr. from gaining massive votes but he could poll 5 percent, some from alienated non-voters and others pulled from Biden and Trump.

All this could happen, but it is preferable that steps are taken for an electoral impasse not to happen. Immediately expect Trump and his supporters to claim fraud, followed by faithless electors changing their proscribed electoral votes and a multitude of agencies seeking court challenges. The entire voting procedure is nebulous, not even defining the quorum needed to discuss and vote and if a majority vote is required in the state voting, which gives the House extremists the opportunity to play their divisive and obstructive games. If Manchin gains the presidency after winning a handful of electoral votes and not more popular votes than the other candidates, the public will demand an overhaul of the electoral system.

Democratic and GOP leaders should realize that, if they insist on running the same candidates who ran in the 2020 election, Senator Joe  Manchin will enter the race as a third Party candidate. Manchin’s candidacy has huge potential in preventing an electoral college winner. Succeeding that probability is the possibility of electoral chaos leading to violent actions. If the reactions are contained and the process goes to its ultimate conclusion, Joe Manchin will be president of the United States of America. By nominating Biden and Trump, the major political Parties are in a lose-lose position. Somebody should tell them that.

Dan Lieberman publishes commentaries on foreign policy, economics, and politics at  He is author of the non-fiction books A Third Party Can Succeed in America, Not until They Were Gone, Think Tanks of DC, The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name, David L. McWellan). Read other articles by Dan.