For the longest time, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) kept everyone guessing and the media salivating as to how he’d end up rolling on the centerpiece of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda – bogusly renamed to “the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Democrats, in particular, became enraged over how Manchin publicly talked about wanting to reach a deal but privately wouldn’t budge until after his demands for pipeline goodies that would benefit his home state were seemingly met after a long period of negotiation with Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
In the end, however, and as we all now know, Manchin ultimately ended up getting humiliated by his own party in the aftermath, with the permitting reform deal he’d pushed for in exchange for his vote falling through thanks to House and Senate Democrat objections, not to mention Senate Republicans who didn’t take kindly to Manchin going back on his word.
As a result of all the drama, the capitulating, and then Manchin having nothing to show for his prolonged efforts after all the smoke cleared, he’s now underwater in his home state, with his poll numbers plummeting:
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s job approval rating has fallen by double digits among West Virginia voters in recent months as he has played a pivotal role in advancing a pared-back version of President Joe Biden’s major domestic policy legislation, Morning Consult Political Intelligence tracking shows. This places him comfortably among America’s most unpopular senators ahead of a potential 2024 re-election run.
A slim majority of West Virginia voters (51%) disapprove of Manchin’s job performance, according to surveys conducted July 1-Sept. 30, up from 38% in the second quarter of the year. This matches his disapproval rating from the beginning of Biden’s presidency.
The increase in disapproval was driven largely by West Virginia Republicans and independents, majorities of whom disapprove of Manchin’s job performance after expressing positive views earlier this year.
The graphs speak for themselves:
Thank you, Joe Manchin, for your generous sacrifice that you gave so willingly. pic.twitter.com/cI4rHKUCnC
— ET Californian🍸🃏 (@ET_Californian) October 11, 2022
Though Manchin’s approval is up among Democrats in the state by eleven percentage points from the beginning of the year, that’s little consolation when one considers there are more registered Republicans in the state at this point, with middle of the road/conservative Democrats routinely voting to support Republican candidates as has often been the case historically in southern states.
So if he did decide to run for reelection, the odds would be against him for winning another term, not just because of low polling but also because – as I’ve noted before – Manchin is likely to face another strong general election fight should he run again. Not only is the state getting redder by the day, but Manchin only narrowly won in 2018 over his Republican opponent by 19,000 votes in an election where the Libertarian candidate got 24,000 votes.
Clearly, West Virginians are trending rightward and red, and Manchin striking a bad deal with a powerful New York Democrat and coming away empty-handed in the process could play a significant role in his chances for another term in the U.S. Senate.
And who would Manchin have to blame in the event he lost that (potential) race? Not Schumer, not Biden, not Sen. Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.). Only himself.