It’s believed among the right (and possibly some independents) that Joe Manchin cashed in his chips when reaching a deal with Chuck Schumer on what would become the Inflation Reduction Act — otherwise known by literally everyone in the media as “the Senate’s climate bill” because no one actually believes it will reduce inflation.
There’s a new Economist/YouGov poll out showing that the American public’s opinion on Manchin may have shifted pretty significantly, to the point where Manchin may really consider cashing in if he hasn’t already.
YouGov Poll: Joe Manchin Favorability before and after "Inflation Reduction Act"
BEFORE(July 20, RV)
AFTER (Aug 7-9, RV)
Indie: -26% pic.twitter.com/dT405k4iI2
— InteractivePolls (@IAPolls2022) August 11, 2022
Before I dive too far into this, there are some caveats that I would be remiss in not sharing. First of all, YouGov is not exactly reliable in its polling. Lately, they’ve been outliers on things like the generic ballot, and their use of online polling leaves me wary. Also, their polling focuses on “registered voters” rather than “likely voters,” which is not an extremely reliable metric on its own, either.
And, lastly, this is a poll of Americans, not exclusively West Virginians. Manchin has always been very popular in his home state, having always managed to score enough money for projects back home to keep him loved and to stay just moderate enough to keep Republicans in the state at bay.
All of this said, however, the numbers in this poll are pretty significant and do need to be looked at.
Losing 13 points in approval is a big drop. Disapproval jumping up 16 points is even bigger. In the new poll, his disapproval among voters ages 65 and up jumped up to 61 percent. He’s also underwater with black and Hispanic voters, though nearly half of those polled don’t know or don’t have an opinion.
It’s not good, though it’s more reflective of the general American public’s dissatisfaction with Manchin than his state suddenly shifting against him. The problem, though, is that Manchin is practically a household name because of his high-profile status as a swing vote in much of the Democratic agenda in Congress. His face is effectively stamped on this climate bill, and he knows it. If that general American attitude does start to trickle into West Virginia, then that could be bad news for him if he’s looking to get re-elected.
But… it’s quite possible he knows all this and is preparing for his retirement from public office (and transition into the private sector). If that’s the case, he doesn’t have a single thing to lose, which makes him far more likely at this point to go full-on progressive. But the climate bill may just be the last agenda item the Democrats can get through. If November goes as expected, they’re not going to get another real chance until after Manchin’s next election. Assuming he decides to run.