OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin’s brand of “third way” moderate politics may not be winning him many friends in the Democratic Party, but it’s apparently a hit with folks he represents in his home state of West Virginia.
As his party has moved further left in recent years, Manchin has refused to follow, choosing to follow a centrist course instead that is frustrating Democrats as they seek to take full advantage of their congressional majority with President Joe Biden in the White House — and as one survey after another suggests the party is going to suffer badly at the polls in November.
But it’s a political course that is a winner back home, as Newsmax reports:
A Morning Consult poll reveals Senator Manchin posted a job-satisfaction rate of 57% for the first quarter of 2022 — a 17% increase from last year’s survey covering the same timeline.
Manchin’s strong approval rating might baffle some in the national media, particularly those who view Manchin as an obstructionist member of the Democrat Party.
As such, during media sessions, the longtime senator (since 2010) routinely gets asked if he’d ponder switching parties to “Independent” or even “Republican” status.
Over the past year, @Sen_JoeManchin has seen the largest job approval rating improvement of any senator. https://t.co/va81PbHn4K pic.twitter.com/3KjDyLReKA
— Morning Consult (@MorningConsult) April 25, 2022
Since Biden took office, Manchin — and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Arizona Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — has regularly opposed large segments of Biden’s social, green, and economic priorities, which has stalled the president’s and Democrats’ agenda.
While critics accuse him of aligning more frequently with the Republican Party, in fact, Manchin has a steady record of being a political moderate.
Morning Consult noted further that Manchin’s 17 percent cumulative increase is the highest approval increase of any U.S. senator since Biden came into office in January 2021.
The second-highest gaining senator is John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, with an 11 percent increase, according to the survey.
“Manchin’s double-digit approval rating improvement over the course of Biden’s tenure is a rarity when compared with other incumbents: Just three of them — John Thune (R-S.D.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) — have seen comparable improvement in their standing,” the Morning Consult’s Eli Yokley said.
As for Manchin, in red West Virginia, Republican voters accounted for his massive approval surge. Morning Consult said that he only had a 35 percent approval rating last year among GOP voters in his state, which Donald Trump won by nearly 40 points during the 2020 election.
But now, among GOP voters there, his approval has soared to 69 percent, which is essentially double what it was a year ago.
Among the state’s Democrats, Manchin’s popularity has dropped 19 points to 44%. But that’s still not enough to negate Manchin’s standing as the most popular U.S. senator, among his total constituents.
From a national perspective, Morning Consult also has Manchin as one of the country’s 10 most popular senators.
For that list, Thune, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., represent the three most popular U.S. senators, whereas Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, rank among the bottom three in the Morning Consult survey.
Among other notables, Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, posted near-identical approval ratings among their own constituents — at 48%.
One of Manchin’s biggest complaints regarding the Biden/Democrat agenda is the party’s refusal to consider the continued use of cheap, plentiful fossil fuels as one of several energy options instead of focusing only on green renewables at a time when gasoline prices have shot skyward over the course of Biden’s presidency.
West Virginia is a leading coal- and natural gas-producing state.
“You cannot be the superpower of the world if you have to depend on other nations to produce your energy” he told Fox Business’ Larry Kudlow last month shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine and the U.S. slapped an oil embargo on Russian crude.
He also argued that he disagrees with the majority of his party and the president because “they have a hard time coming to grips that you’ve got to use everything you’ve got” or else you “end up like Germany did” — a country overly reliant on Russian gas — and “in one heck of a mess.”