EDITORIAL: Manchin's Core Support Could Be Fraying

HNN Staff
EDITORIAL:  Manchin's Core Support Could Be Fraying

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin has gotten far on personal charisma, a fine asset to possess in ordinary times.  The public enjoys a consoling voice and the appearance of sincerity.

However, when tough times come, and the public begins to look into a politician's track record and broken promises, charm alone is not enough.  That is the problem Manchin faces in the 2012 election for a full term to the U.S. Senate.  He has promised too much to too many factions, both at the state level and to his federal Democratic Party overlords.

As a result, he looks increasingly like a man whose support on both sides is shrinking, leaving him on a smaller and smaller island between the liberal Democrats and the conservative Tea Party folks, neither of whom care much for Manchin's tenure in D.C.  

Worse, even Manchin's rock-ribbed conservative Democratic supporters are getting to the point where they don't know what to believe anymore.  For example, Manchin tries hard to show distance himself from the Obama Administration's Environmental Protection Agency and its war on coal.  

But hold on. Manchin was elected because West Virginians thought he could actually do something about the radical environmentalists in the administration who are hellbent on coal's complete destruction.

What's the use of being a Democratic Senator from West Virginia if you have no leverage whatsoever with the Democratic President?  President Obama hasn't so much as thrown a bone to Manchin on coal.  So much for Manchin's great claim in 2010 that it's "better to work from the inside" with a fellow Democrat like Obama.

There are other signs that Manchin's core followers are dropping out.  In Kanawha County, a serious cadre of core Manchin supporters--the ones who helped him get elected to the Governor's Mansion in 2004--have a complaint that one hears more often now that Manchin has gone to D.C.  These dedicated former campaign volunteers will tell you that Manchin is all charm when he needs your help. But after he gets what he wants, he's gone with the wind.

If Joe Manchin is not tending to his social network as much as he might, his Republican counterpart, John Raese, has a rare opportunity.  Raese need only reach out to these mostly conservative disaffected voters and listen to their complaints.  Their concerns about jobs, the price of gasoline, the size of the federal government, and the future of West Virginia, will likely be similar to his own.  

When Raese finds new friends in the form of many former Manchin supporters knocking on his door, that is the moment when this race gets really interesting.  

From all we're hearing, we may be there already.





Comments powered by Disqus