Joe Manchin's Approval Rating Drops as Senator Rebuffs Infrastructure Bill

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has suffered a decline in his approval rating among voters in his home state, according to the figures in the latest WV MetroNews West Virginia Poll.

Manchin now enjoys 42 percent approval in West Virginia, compared with 37 percent of respondents who disapprove. This is a notable change compared with results in the same poll in October, 2020.

The poll comes as Democrats in the House and Senate are pushing ahead with President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion infrastructure proposal, though Manchin has indicated he will not support that amount of spending.

The last WV MetroNews West Virginia Poll in October showed the Democratic senator with 44 percent approval from likely voters and 44 percent disapproval, meaning both his approval and disapproval have declined.

A key figure here is poll respondents who said they were unsure whether they approved of Manchin. In October 2020, that figure was 13 percent but in the latest polling it had risen to 21 percent.

Manchin has seen a relatively steady decline in his approval rating since a WV MetroNews West Virginia Poll in 2019 found that he had 49 percent approval. He was reelected to the Senate in 2018 and will face voters again in 2024 if he chooses to run.

The senator, who is considered a moderate or conservative Democrat, has been a key powerbroker in the evenly divided Senate as the slim Democratic majority has pressed ahead with its legislative agenda.

A report from Axios on Tuesday claimed that Manchin has told the White House he has reservations about the proposed $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill and may only back spending of $1.5 trillion.

The Democrats aim to pass the bill through the budget reconciliation process, which would allow them to circumvent the Senate filibuster and Republican opposition. However, this will not be possible without Manchin's support.

The recent poll was conducted among 400 registered West Virginia voters from August 20 to 25. This period was after Manchin had publicly come against Democrats' major voting rights legislation, the For the People Act.

Rex Repass, president of Research America, which conducted the poll for WV MetroNews, noted the decline in Manchin's approval rating since the last poll.

"There's no question Senator Manchin is walking a tightwire between the state and the constituents in his state, and the greater Democratic Party in Washington," Repass said.

"Senator Manchin has always been pretty adept at walking that tightwire, but we have seen some dropoff of his job approval rating," he said.

However, Manchin enjoys more support among Democrats than Republicans in the state, with 51 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of liberals approving. Just 37 percent of Republicans and 30 percent of independents approved of Manchin.

Joe Manchin Speaks to the Press
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) (C) speaks to members of the press after a weekly Senate Democratic Policy Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on July 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Manchin's approval rating in West Virginia has declined since October, 2020. Alex Wong/Getty Images