A little noticed poll by Mark Blankenship of MBE Research spells out the fundamental reason Joe Manchin can’t back Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) program or his curbs on the filibuster to pass his voting legislation: He’d get killed in West Virginia.
The survey, taken on November 15, 2021, showed that Manchin’s straddling of party lines is very popular in his home state even as Biden and his programs are radioactive.
The Blankenship Poll found that Manchin has a 61% approval rating (although only 24% strongly approve. By contrast, Biden has a paltry 23% approval in West Virginia with 65% disapproval.
The poll asked voters if they agreed with Manchin’s opposition to Biden’s BBB program, 61% said they did and only 37% disagreed and wanted Manchin to back the program.
On his support for the filibuster, the West Virginia Democrat is also on solid ground politically. By 67-26 his constituents agree with his position.
So why doesn’t Manchin just cross the aisle and join the GOP?
One reason: He is afraid of a primary. Chris Regan, the former vice chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party — an endangered species — says that “even the most right-leaning Democrat in the Senate is not nearly far right enough to win a GOP primary in a Trump +39 state.” Regan speculates that Manchin would face a GOP primary from Rep Alex Mooney (R-WV), a hard right conservative. While moderate voters might agree with Manchin on the Biden program, he might be tripped up on base Republican issues like abortion and lose the primary.
So, Manchin will likely remain firm for the best of all reasons: He doesn’t have a choice.
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