Chris Lange, FISM News
West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s moderate approach to the Biden presidency appears to have paid off in his state. Newly published findings from a Morning Consult Political Intelligence Data poll found that 57% of West Virginia voters approve of Manchin’s job performance, a major leap from the senator’s 40% approval rating during the first quarter of 2021.
The increase in popularity is due, in large part, to West Virginian Republicans, among whom approval for Manchin’s job performance has doubled – soaring to 69%, the report stated. Manchin, in fact, saw the largest gain of voter approval by any U.S. senator within the same time frame. He has also seen a spike in popularity among independent voters, whose approval rose from 31% to 50% since last year.
“It turns out that Joe Manchin knows more about West Virginia voters than D.C. strategists,” said former Manchin aide Jonathan Kott. “The amount of interactions he has with his voters I don’t think can be paralleled by other members.”
But while Manchin’s approval is soaring among conservatives and independents, his popularity among Democrats has taken a hit. 54% of his state’s blue party now disapprove of his job performance, compared to 31% in FY 2021.
Manchin has engendered a significant amount of acrimony among progressive Democrats nationwide for voting against several of Biden’s domestic agenda items, including climate change and voting rights legislation as well as Build Back Better, the president’s massive social spending package that has been indefinitely tabled due to lack of support.
Still, Manchin’s boost in support among Republicans and Independents bode well for a potential 2024 reelection campaign in a state that favored former President Donald Trump by 39% over Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
Only three other incumbents saw significant increases in their respective approval ratings: Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Alex Padill (D- Calif.), and John Thune (R-S.D.)
Other moderate-leaning Democratic senators who have sided with Manchin in opposing progressive legislation have not fared as well. Arizona’s Sen. Kyrsten Sinema saw her approval rating drop from 46% to 44%, while the number of her constituents who disapprove of the job she is doing rose from 35% to 42%. The study chalks these numbers up to a “souring among Democrats and a lack of bounce among independents.”
Meanwhile, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is the most unpopular senator in the country, with 60% of Kentucky voters saying they disapprove of his job performance, according to the report. His approval rating stands at a bleak 33%.
McConnell has earned the wrath of pro-Trump Republicans for his purported support of the Jan. 6 committee investigation against the former president. The committee asserts that Trump incited a riot on Capitol Hill.
Earlier this month, Axios asked the Kentucky Senator why Republicans “hate him,” to which McConnell replied, “My job is not to run up political popularity nationally…The two constituents that matter to me are the people at home and the people in the Senate.”
Morning Consult compiled its data from surveys conducted Jan. 1 – March 31 among registered voters in all 50 states, with a possible +/- 5 margin of error.