CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — During Biden’s presidency, West Virginians have grown increasingly fond of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.
According to a survey conducted by the morning counselor, Manchin now has a 57% West Virginia approval rating, which is one of the top 10 approval ratings among all senators. This increased by only 40% in the first quarter of 2021.
Manchin has taken controversial steps since President Biden was elected. Manchin was seen as a key figure in voting for Biden’s Build Back Better. When he voted no and the bill did not pass, many across the country who supported it held Manchin and West Virginia responsible for its failure, including the actress Bette Midler, who tweeted about Joe Manchin’s vote and sparked a heated back-and-forth between her and West Virginia 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 favor of Joe Manchin. According to the Morning Consultant poll, 69% of Republicans in West Virginia now approve of Senator Manchin. That’s even higher than the percentage of West Virginians who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Trump received 68% of West Virginia’s vote in 2016 and 69% in 2020, according to PA.
While Manchin isn’t as strongly backed by his own party and has actually seen their approval drop to just 44%, support from Republicans and Independents negates that decline. Independent support for Senator Manchin has risen from 31% to 50%.
“It turns out that Joe Manchin knows more about West Virginia voters than DC strategists,” Manchin’s former aide Jonathan Kott said in an interview with the Morning Consultant. “I don’t think the number of interactions he has with his constituents can be matched by other members.”
West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito hasn’t seen the same surge in approval as her Democratic counterpart. Capito saw a slight dip in approval with a change of -1 point between the start of 2021 and the start of 2022. In comparison, Manchin’s approval changed by +16 points.
President Joe Biden’s approval rating has also fallen over the past year. According to Reuters, Biden’s approval rating hit 59% in March 2021 and has been falling ever since. A The USA Today poll showed his approval rating was as low as 38% in November 2022. A A March poll put him at 47% approval right after his State of the Union address.
The senators with the highest overall approval ratings are Republican John Thune of South Dakota, Republican John Barrasso of Wyoming and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.
The least popular senators are Republican Susan Collins of Maine, Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and the least popular is GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.