Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has been the occasional thorn in President Joe Biden's side on certain voting measures, apparently to the delight of his constituents back home.
A Morning Consult poll reveals Senator Manchin posted a job-satisfaction rate of 57% for the first quarter of 2022 — a 17% increase from last year's survey covering the same timeline.
Manchin's strong approval rating might baffle some in the national media, particularly those who view Manchin as an obstructionist member of the Democrat Party.
As such, during media sessions, the longtime senator (since 2010) routinely gets asked if he'd ponder switching parties to "Independent" or even "Republican" status.
Manchin has openly opposed big chunks of Biden's social and economic agenda, effectively stalling it in Congress. He's seen as a centrist Democrat, whose critics accuse him of aligning more with GOP positions.
According to Morning Consult, Manchin's 17% cumulative increase represents the highest popularity jump of any U.S. senator, since Biden took office in January 2021.
John Thune, R-S.D., owns the second-highest bump in the survey — at 11%.
"Manchin's double-digit approval rating improvement over the course of Biden’s tenure is a rarity when compared with other incumbents: Just three of them — John Thune (R-S.D.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) — have seen comparable improvement in their standing," says the Morning Consult's Eli Yokley.
West Virginia Republicans account for Manchin's approval surge. According to Morning Consult, Manchin held only a 35% approval rating last year with Republicans in his state – the largest voting block in a state that Donald Trump won by almost 40 points during the 2020 presidential election.
In the present, though, Manchin's approval rating with West Virginia Republicans stands at a robust 69%, essentially doubling last year's number.
Among the state's Democrats, Manchin's popularity has dropped 19 points to 44%. But that's still not enough to negate Manchin's standing as the most popular U.S. senator, among his total constituents.
From a national perspective, Morning Consult also has Manchin as one of the country's 10 most popular senators.
For that list, Thune, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., represent the three most popular U.S. senators, whereas Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, rank among the bottom three in the Morning Consult survey.
Among other notables, Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, posted near-identical approval ratings among their own constituents — at 48%.
A few months ago, Romney jokingly referred to Manchin as "Mister President," given the latter's immense power as a crucial swing voter with Democrat bills and initiatives.
The U.S. Senate currently has a 50-50 partisan split among Republicans and Democrats.
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