The 2024 election, which as of now is on track to be a rematch of 2020 between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, looks like it will be an exceptionally close contest in which every vote earned will be crucial for the victor.
That has prompted some of Biden's allies, including failed 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, to raise concerns about the prospect of his losing votes to third-party candidates, according to Fox News.
Clinton is reported to have recently issued a direct warning to the president about how he and his campaign team need to take more seriously the threat of third-party candidates siphoning away voters who might otherwise support his re-election.
NBC News reported Monday on the "creeping fear" within President Biden's campaign that he could lose the 2024 race not because of the particular strength of the eventual Republican nominee but rather because minor-party candidates might play the role of spoiler in Biden's bid for a second term in the White House.
That worry largely pertains to a possible independent run by leftist academic Cornel West as well as the moderate Democratic "No Labels" group, both of whom would largely draw support away from Biden's base voters, though also to a lesser extent the eventual nominees for the left-leaning Green Party and right-leaning Libertarian Party.
"It’s pretty f--king concerning," one anonymous ally of the president told the outlet of the third-party threat, while another unnamed ally said, "With a tight election, every vote counts. Is it in the back of many people’s brains? Absolutely. Do we have to be careful as we move out? Yes, we do."
NBC News noted that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during a visit to the White House earlier this month, spoke directly with President Biden during an aside and, according to an unnamed source, "pressed Biden to take the third-party threat seriously and come up with a way to compensate for it."
Clinton, of course, has cited votes siphoned away from her by third-party candidates, specifically Green Party nominee Jill Stein, as being among the 1,001 excuses she has put forward to explain her loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
The apparent alarm among the Biden camp is not entirely unfounded, as a recent NBC News poll found that third-party candidates may indeed play a spoiler role as the incumbent president seeks a second term.
In a head-to-head matchup between the two most likely major party candidates, Biden and Trump are now tied at 46%, down from a prior lead of 49-45% that the current president held over his predecessor in June in that same poll.
However, that tie shifted in Trump's favor when the pollsters added third-party candidates into the mix and found that Trump would prevail 39-36% over Biden while 5% supported the eventual Libertarian candidate, 5% would vote for a hypothetical "No Labels" moderate, and 4% would back the Green nominee.
Notably, Cornel West -- and the not-insignificant coalition of young, black, and leftist voters he would largely pull from Biden's base of support -- was not included in the question.
The NBC News report noted that Biden himself was "worried about" losing voters to third-party candidates and faced a "conundrum" in its messaging in terms of wanting to make fellow Democrats "aware" of the potential problem without also "stoking panic."
Yet, Fox News pointed out that at least one Biden ally, former Obama aide David Axelrod, warned in recent months that panic was perhaps exactly what Democrats need to face this issue, as the CNN contributor said in July of the third-party threat, "This is going to sneak up on people," and added, "I don’t know why alarm bells aren’t going off now, and they should be at a steady drumbeat from now until the election."