CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – During the Biden presidency, West Virginians are getting more fond of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.
According to a poll by the Morning Consultant, Manchin now has an approval rating in West Virginia of 57%, which is one of the top 10 highest approval ratings among all senators. That has increased from only 40% in the first quarter of 2021.
Manchin has made some controversial moves since president Biden was elected. Manchin was considered a key person in the vote for Biden’s Build Back Better. When he voted no and the bill didn’t pass, many people from across the country who supported it held Manchin, and West Virginia, responsible for its failure, including actress Bette Midler, who Tweeted about Joe Manchin’s vote and spiked a heated back and forth between herself and West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice who told Midler to kiss Babydog’s “hiney”.
But being a controversial Democrat in a Republican-dominated state seems to have worked in Joe Manchin’s favor. According to the Morning Consultant poll, 69% of West Virginian Republicans are now in approval of Senator Manchin. That’s even higher than the percentage of West Virginians who voted for Donald Trump during the presidential election in 2016. Trump received 68% of the West Virginia vote in 2016 and 69% in 2020, according to AP.
While Manchin is not as highly supported by his own party and has actually seen a decline in their approval to only 44%, the support of the Republicans and Independents override that regression. Independent support of Senator Manchin has increased from 31% to 50%.
“It turns out that Joe Manchin knows more about West Virginia voters than D.C. strategists,” said former Manchin aide Jonathan Kott in an interview with the Morning Consultant. “The amount of interactions he has with his voters I don’t think can be paralleled by other members.”
West Virginia’s Republican Shelley Moore Capito has not seen the same hike in approval as her Democratic counterpart. Capito has seen a slight decrease in approval with a change of -1 point from the beginning of 2021 to the beginning of 2022. By comparison, Manchin’s approval has changed +16 points.
President Joe Biden’s approval rating has also dropped in the past year. According to Reuters, Biden’s approval rating reached as high as 59% in March of 2021 and has been steadily declining ever since. A USA Today poll showed his approval rating as low as 38% in November 2022. A March poll rated him at 47% approval right after his State of the Union address.
Senators with the overall highest approval rating are Republican John Thune out of South Dakota, Republican John Barrasso out of Wyoming and former Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders, an Independent out of Vermont.
The least popular senators are Republican Susan Collins out of Maine, Republican Ron Johnson out of Wisconsin, and the least popular is Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.