Senator Joe Manchin may be an outlier among most of his Democratic colleagues in Washington, but he knows what plays back home. A new survey by Republican pollster Mark Blankenship of MBE Research* finds Manchin is on solid ground with most voters in West Virginia.
Manchin has a 61 percent approval rating among registered voters, while 37 percent disapprove of the job he is doing.
“Voters want to be listened to. When they feel like you’re listening to them, they will reward that either at the polls or in numbers like this,” Blankenship said on MetroNews Talkline Monday. “I think that’s what’s recognized here is that Senator Manchin is listening to the people of West Virginia.”
For example, Manchin supported the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that President Biden signed into law yesterday. That legislation includes about $6 billion for roads, bridges, water and sewer projects, broadband and other traditional infrastructure projects in West Virginia.
That is a popular position in West Virginia. The MBE Poll found that a whopping 77 percent of those questioned support Senators Manchin and Republican Shelley Moore Capito “working together in a bipartisan effort to pass a national infrastructure bill.”
Bipartisanship. Money for roads, bridges and broadband. No wonder both Manchin and Capito get high numbers on the infrastructure bill. It fits the narrative for many West Virginians of how Congress is supposed to work.
The survey finds that Manchin, at least for now, is aligned with West Virginia voters on the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better proposal. Sixty-one percent agree with Manchin’s current position of opposing the spending proposal.
Manchin has been successful since he arrived in Washington at threading the political needle. He is a Democrat, but he represents a red state where Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden 69 percent to 30 percent. The poll shows only 21 percent of West Virginia voters believe Manchin is “an automatic vote for Joe Biden and those pushing his agenda in Congress,” while 70 percent believe he is “an independent voice.”
Manchin also appears to have the support of West Virginians with his position of maintaining the filibuster. Sixty-seven percent agree the filibuster should continue.
These poll numbers indicate a remarkably strong position for Manchin in a deep red state. It has evidently helped that Manchin has been in the news nearly every day opposing key elements of the Biden agenda.
“Senator Manchin has always been politically very smart. He knows that President Biden is dramatically unpopular in the state, as are a lot of his programs,” Blankenship said.
Republicans are already lining up to take on Manchin in 2024, if Manchin runs for re-election. He said on Talkline Friday he has not made up his mind. If Manchin does run, he will be vulnerable because of his party affiliation. However, as these numbers show, Manchin has a way of surviving, and even thriving, in a difficult political environment.
*(The poll findings are a result of 702 completed interviews among registered West Virginia voters the week of November 7. It has an error rate of +/- 3%.)