Donald Trump will edge out Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election when factoring in Dr. Cornel West’s so-called “spoiler” third-party candidacy, according to new data from an “increasingly accurate” polling source.
The findings from the most recent 2024 election poll – released on Saturday, just days before the first Republican primary presidential debate – suggested that Trump, if he is the Republican nominee, would barely emerge victorious over the Democratic incumbent with West, who is seeking the Green Party’s nomination, also on the ballot. The same Emerson College poll also found that Biden and Trump are in a dead heat in a head-to-head matchup that did not factor in West’s candidacy.
At the same time, more people than not disapprove of Biden as president, the polling confirmed.
According to Emerson College Polling’s August national poll, in an election featuring Biden, Trump and West on the ballot, the Republican would have 42% of the votes, the incumbent would have 41% of the votes and the Green Party candidate would have 5% of the votes. Thirteen percent of the respondents said they were undecided. When West is not on the ballot, Biden and Trump are tied at 44% of the vote each with 12% undecided.
One thousand registered voters responded to the poll, which has a margin of error of three percentage points. As always, polling is not definitive and instead provides a snapshot of how voters feel about candidates at that particular time. Emerson College Polling describes itself on its website as “a well-regarded and increasingly accurate organization.”
The polling was released on Saturday, just days after Trump was indicted for the fourth time in as many months with sweeping criminal charges alleging election interference in Georgia in 2020; charges that conservatives legal scholars say should disqualify him not just from the ballot but also from ever being president again. The findings were also revealed just as a report about West emerged showing he owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes and unpaid child support.
One way Biden could make ground on Trump with West on the ballot is if he improved his standing with independent voters, with whom he is “still underwater,” according to Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling.
The polling numbers reflect why West has been consistently called a “spoiler” for Biden’s chances at reelection – a label that the noted scholar and activist has repeatedly rejected. West, whose one-time support for Barack Obama abruptly turned to condemnation for the former president’s centrist ideals, previously defended his candidacy and suggested he was resolute to run in part because of the Democratic Party’s past treatment of former presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“The lesson that I learned was that the Democratic Party, for the most part, is a corporate-dominated party that uses its progressives often as window dressing. Bernie was not given the kind of chance that he deserved, which is to say our efforts were not given the kind of fair chance that they deserved,” West told Politico in an interview published last month. “By refusing to speak to the needs of the poor and working people, the Democratic Party helps to facilitate and enable the Trumps and the [Ron] DeSantises and others. So, you end up with neo-fascism being in some ways dependent on neoliberalism and vice versa.”
It’s that type of approach that has placed fear in the heart of Democratic strategists.
“This is going to sneak up on people,” David Axelrod, who was instrumental in Barack Obama’s presidential elections, told CNN last month. “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.”
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Austin Davis was equally as blunt about Democrats and West being on the ballot next year: “We should be concerned.”
David B. Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron in Ohio, went even further in his assessment.
“There is always a danger a third-party candidate can impact the Electoral College results, particularly if they receive enough votes in a battleground state or states to change the outcome,” Cohen told Newsweek. “In a close election, Cornel West could well be a spoiler.”
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