CBS News reported on Friday that Democrat officials are "freaking out" behind closed doors about a possible third-party candidate and how that could impact President Joe Biden's re-election chances.
The Democrat National Committee is reportedly sending out talking points from left-wing group Third Way to state and local officials telling them to denounce any third-party candidates before they can begin to gain traction.
“We need to do everything we can to stop this effort NOW, and not wait until they name a ticket and this becomes a runaway train,” a Utah Democratic Party official said, adding, “And right now is the moment to act, while the conventional wisdom on this hasn’t hardened yet and we have the opportunity to shape it.”
The nonpartisan group No Labels has been discussing a third-party bid and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)'s name has been floated as a candidate, though nothing official has happened yet other than the group getting qualified to be on the ballot in 10 states. There has been no indication Manchin would even run if asked.
Still, the prospect would be terrifying for Biden, whose recent poll numbers have been his weakest.
“Go on the record denouncing a [No Labels] third party presidential ticket effort—issue a statement on social media, put out an open letter, use media appearances,” an email instructed Democrat leaders.
The DNC does not want state and local officials to go on the warpath officially yet, however.
“The DNC has asked for state and county parties not to make any public statements right now about No Labels (although they are okay with elected officials speaking out publicly against them),” a state Democratic official’s email reviewed by CBS News said.
Of course, if the election is close and there are third-party candidates on the Democrat side, it could tip the election to the GOP nominee.
Cornel West is already running on the Green Party ticket, and a No Labels candidate could provide another alternative to an ever-more-unpopular Biden.
Democrats have no idea whether there will be any third-party candidates on the Republican side, which could balance out the race or even push it further to the Democrat side.
Still, it would not do to be caught unprepared if a candidate like Manchin does emerge. He's been a frequent spoiler for the Democrats before when he voted against key legislation in the previously 50-50 Senate, and could effectively keep Biden from gaining another term even though he has to know he wouldn't win a general election.+
The ten states where No Label has qualified to be on the ballot so far include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah.
At least two of those--Arizona and North Carolina--are usually swing states, which could make it harder for Biden to reach a winning number of electoral votes.