David Axelrod did not rule out Joe Manchin running for president on a third-party ticket because he is "a dead man walking in West Virginia"

The former advisor to Barack Obama analyzed the Senate elections in West Virginia and assured that an imminent defeat of the senator could displace him to the presidential stage.

Joe Manchin has yet to define his political future. The senator faces an uphill battle if he wants to renew his seat in the Senate, so he has not ruled out being a third-party presidential candidate. David Axelrod, former advisor to Barack Obama in the White House, analyzed this situation and practically ruled out any electoral victory for the moderate in 2024.

Manchin, a former governor of West Virginia, first came to the Senate in 2010 to replace the late Robert Byrd and has since successfully faced the ballot box twice. However, the third time may not be the charm.

Jim Justice entered the West Virginia Senate race in late April and quickly complicated the incumbent’s aspirations. The current governor has been the darling of the Republican establishment from the beginning and was recruited by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He has the support of the Club for Growth and some $10 million to campaign.

His recruitment aligns with the GOP’s plan to have self-sufficient Senate candidates. He is the wealthiest person in West Virginia due to his emporium of 94 companies, among them The Greenbrier, a luxury hotel in White Sulphur Springs.

Axelrod vs. Manchin

The former Obama advisor analyzed the senator’s situation and reached unpromising conclusions. “I don’t want to be unkind to Sen. Manchin, but he’s kind of [a] dead man walking in West Virginia. There’s nowhere for him to go,” he stated recently.

“There’s nowhere for him to go. He’s got a popular Republican governor in the state that Donald Trump carried by almost 40 points. He didn’t win by very much last time. So he knows that he can’t win reelection in that state,” he added.

The latest survey conducted by ECU shows Justice 22 percentage points ahead of Manchin in a hypothetical match-up. “Deeper analysis of the approval numbers shows barely half (51%) of self-identified Democrats in West Virginia approve of Senator Manchin’s job performance. The senator’s approval drops to 37% among independents and to just 22% among Republicans,” the poll showed.

In the face of these airs of defeat, Axelrod did not rule out that the moderate will end up entering the presidential race for a third party which, according to the strategist, would qualify as an “elegant way out for him.” “You better have Plan B, because if Plan A shows we’re going to the far reaches of both sides, the far left and the far right…,” he added.

The senator has been flirting for months with this idea and even refused to “include or exclude himself” from those who aspire to occupy the White House in January 2025.

Manchin and an uphill reelection

Despite his classic strategy of moderation in the run-up to the general election, the fact that his next encounter with the polls coincides with the presidential election is a factor that could be a determining factor in the race.

Donald Trump carried West Virginia by 38.9 %. If that margin of victory is repeated for the Republican candidate, Manchin would have to get nearly 40% of the electorate to vote for the GOP for president and a Democrat for Senate.

His seat is one of the most coveted (perhaps the most) by the Republican leadership in the upper chamber. “What we know about West Virginia is that it’s very, very red, and we have an extremely popular incumbent governor who has announced his candidacy for the Senate. And we’re going to go all out to win it,” said Mitch McConnell in an interview with CNN.