CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia is split on U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., according to a poll published Thursday.
In Morning Consult’s latest Senator Approval Rankings, Manchin has a 43 percent approval rating and 44 percent disapproval rating with a 2 percent margin of error.
This is the first time Manchin’s numbers have been underwater since President Donald Trump took office. Manchin had a 57 percent approval rating and 33 percent disapproval rating in Morning Consult’s April 2017 rankings, the first of the Trump presidency. The senior senator had a 52 percent approval rating among West Virginia voters earlier this year in January, compared to 36 percent disapproval.
The 17 point slide since the January is the largest decline of any senator.
The survey findings come with less than a month before the primary election; six Republicans — Rep. Evan Jenkins, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, National Guard Maj. Tom Willis, former coal miner Bo Copley and U.S. Navy veteran Jack Newbrough — are running in hopes of challenging Manchin in the general election to be held in November.
Manchin faces one primary challenger, activist Paula Jean Swearengin.
The survey was conducted between Jan. 1 and March 31, a period in which Trump and Vice President Mike Pence criticized Manchin for voting against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December.
“Two-Faced Joe has made a habit of regularly obstructing the President’s agenda in a state that overwhelmingly supports the President and his policies,” the Republican National Committee said in a statement. “Two-Faced Joe is no longer able to hide from his votes in Washington. The President and his Administration have repeatedly highlighted his votes and cheap talk.
“Now Two-Faced Joe must make a feeble attempt to convince West Virginians that he’s not part of the Washington Schumer-Warren establishment.”
Manchin campaign spokesman Grant Herring said the campaign has polls showing the senator can win in November.
“Every poll shows Senator Manchin winning in November,” he said. “While others are spending millions in the messy Republican primary, we haven’t run one ad. Our lead will grow once West Virginians start to focus on the race and we deliver our message to working families with the help of important endorsements that are already starting to roll out, like the UMWA, the Tourism Industry, the AFL-CIO, and the Huntington Chamber of Commerce.”
FiveThirtyEight reports Manchin has voted 60.3 percent in line with the Trump agenda. Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who took office in January, has the only higher percentage among Democrats with a 63.6 percent rating.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has the approval of 45 percent of respondents, compared to 48 percent in the previous quarter. Her disapproval rating is at 35 percent.
In April 2017, 59 percent of respondents approved of Capito compared to 26 percent who disapproved.
Morning Consult also released on Thursday its Governor Approval Rankings, in which Gov. Jim Justice has a 42 percent approval rating, while 44 percent of respondents disapprove of his performance in office.
“After posting a 13 point surge in popularity between the third and fourth quarters of 2017, the Republican governor dropped 10 points during the first quarter of 2018,” Morning Consult senior reporter Cameron Easley said.
According to Morning Consult, Trump carries a 61 percent approval rating in West Virginia, the third highest rating behind Alabama and Wyoming.