Will Joe Manchin cross the aisle to give the GOP control of the Senate?

Like many here on RS, I’ve been very happy with Mitt’s recent surge in the polls. And like many more here, I’ve been sweating out what will happen in the Senate. I’m optimistic, and think that a mini-wave of sorts is forming, and we will see the GOP end up with the majority, possible 52-53 seats.

For control, the GOP needs 50 seats ( Ryan’s the tie breaker.) Let’s thus consider the possibility that we fall short by one. And do not forget that Mitch McConnell has been gnashing his teeth over this, as he had been busy planning the redecoration of the majority leader’s office..

I’ve been wondering for over a week about Lindsay Graham’s spirited defense of Joe Manchin’s vote to send $$$$$ to Egypt, while overtly dissing Rand Paul in the process. Yes, Lindsay often goes off the reservation ( and may face a primary in 2014 because of it) but I’ve been hard pressed to figure out why this, and why now. He gains absolutely nothing for it. And since, inside the Beltway, nobody does anything for nothing, it is reasonable to ponder “cui bono?”

Let’s then consider both the make-up of the Senate, and the state of politics in West Virginia.

In the Senate, in 2014, there are 20 Democrats, and 13 Republicans, up for re-election. There is not ONE GOP seat at risk. For the Dems, it’s a much different story. Several seats are very likely to change, because of weak incumbents ( N.Carolina, Alaska) and several more will probably flip because the incumbent Democrat will face a very tough race in an increasingly red state, and even if they managed to pull out a win, all they would gain would be six more years, but this time in the minority ( S. Dakota, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, West Virginia). Far better to retire gracefully, and rake in the big $$ on K-Street .

West Virginia has long voted Republican for president, and is trending redder down-ballot with each successive election. There is only one Democrat congressman left, the corrupt Nick Rahal, and if he wins this time, it’s likely his swan song. Manchin will win next month, but will immediately have to take several votes, on the debt, taxes, entitlements that put him in direct opposition with his caucus. And then there’s the question of coal, and what Obama has done, and wants to do, to the coal mining industry. Joe’s party has indeed left him.

I’ve long felt that after Rockefeller announces his retirement, Manchin, after fighting his caucus on many issues, would announce before 2014 that he was switching parties.(And look for Capito to run for, and win, the Senate seat.) This would follow the example set with Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

But let’s consider two possible scenarios:

1. Romney wins, and the GOP ends up with 49 seats ( likely)
2. Obama wins, and the GOP ends up with 50 seats ( far less likely)

Manchin now has an incredible amount of leverage, and influence. And if one assumes that a party switch was inevitable for him (given that the Democrats WILL be in the minority in 2014) then he might well decide to go for the gold now. He could demand, and receive, an incredible deal for himself, as to committee assignments and seniority

Usually, when one political party is attempting to induce a member of the opposition to change sides, one is designated as the point man for the operation, the designated contact, the handholder. Graham and Manchin are friends, and ideologically probably fairly close. Thus, it makes sense for Graham to be giving Manchin some immediate, and obvious political cover.

Joe Manchin, the Republican senator from West Virginia.

Say it’s so, Joe!!!