Can the GOP Gain Senate Seats in States Trump Won? Preliminary Analysis of Joe Manchin By Paul Joyce
The Utica College Center of Public Affairs and Election Research recently began examining Democratic Senators up for reelection in states Donald Trump won. This piece provides preliminary analysis of Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia
Senator Manchin has been in West Virginian politics for over 20 years. He was Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005 and Governor from 2005 to 2010. Manchin came to the Senate in 2010 via special election after the death of Robert Byrd. He was elected to his first full term in 2012 with 60 percent of the vote.
West Virginia has become more Republican in recent years. Shelley Moore-Capito (R), the state’s other senator, won by 28 percent in 2014. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 42 percent in 2016. Trump’s current 60 percent approval rating in West Virginia is the highest of any state in the country.
On the surface, this does not bode well for Senator Manchin, but he is unlike other Democrats. Manchin is pro-gun, pro-life, and willing to work with Trump on issues such as healthcare. In fact, he has voted with Trump a majority of the time and more than any other Democrat. Manchin has even acknowledged that his working relationship with Trump is more effective than his relationship with former President Obama ever was.
Manchin has also shown that he is not afraid to criticize the president. He expressed concern about the Trump administration’s potential linkages to Russia and is skeptical of Russia’s intentions. Manchin has argued that Russia should be viewed as an adversary, not a friend, and that Comey’s dismissal would not prevent the Senate Intelligence Committee from continuing the Russia probe.
Manchin’s moderate approach and eagerness to compromise with Republicans appears to be a good fit with West Virginia’s more conservative electorate heading in 2018. This has prompted some to suggest he should be a model for Democrats conservative states, while others question if the Democratic tent is big enough to support his pro-life views. It’s little surprise that Politico wrote that Manchin sits in “one of the most unusual positions in Washington today.”
Paul Joyce is an MPA candidate at the University of Albany