It can’t be said enough how Republican leaning West Virginia is. President Joe Biden won 29.7% of the vote against Donald Trump in the 2020 election. That was somehow an improvement over Hillary Clinton’s 26% of the vote in 2016. Clinton’s was the worst performance for a Democratic presidential candidate since West Virginia became a state. Biden’s was the second worst.
No other Democrat in Congress represents a district or state as Republican leaning as Manchin. In fact, no other Democrat represents a district or state where Biden won less than 40% of the vote, let alone less than 30%.
Manchin is the only Democrat who holds any office elected statewide in West Virginia. The Democratic candidate for the other Senate seat (very progressive Paula Jean Swearengin) got a mere 27% of the vote in 2020, a lower share than even Biden.
When it comes to the filibuster in particular, Manchin’s views seem to be very much in the mainstream. I say “seem” because a lot of Americans aren’t that familiar with the filibuster, and their views on it can differ depending how exactly the question is asked.
Even among Democrats, just 55% wanted the filibuster lowered below 60 votes. There was a substantial minority (38%) who wanted it kept the same (26%) or raised (12%).
On a different question, a mere 30% of Democrats want to get rid of the filibuster completely.
Manchin’s feelings may not be the most popular on Twitter, but they represent at least a substantial portion of Democrats in the electorate.
Now, I should point out that the public is more tightly divided when it comes to legislation regarding election rules and voting rights. It’s on this topic, of course, that a number of Democrats are willing to ditch the filibuster.
When asked whether they supported or opposed use of the filibuster on this type of legislation, Americans were split 46% to 46%. Note, this question didn’t ask whether the filibuster should be eliminated if it was used on an election form bill. Just whether it should be allowed.
Again, though, Manchin’s view is mainstream. Focusing on Democrats, Manchin’s among the 32% who supported allowing the filibuster on an election reform bill.
Some of those Democrats are Manchin’s colleagues in the Senate.
These senators don’t get brought up anywhere near as much as Manchin because they’re not as front and center about going against the base. It’s good politics for Manchin in West Virginia to be seen opposing something the Democratic base desperately wants.
The bottom line is that not only does Manchin give the Democrats the majority, but he provides cover for a number of moderates who are more than happy for him to take the heat.