EDITORIAL: Manchin's Popularity in Question Now

HNN Staff

The famed PPP polling group, a Democratic polling firm out of North Carolina, now says that U.S. Senator Joe Manchin is no longer as popular as he was when he was Governor.  Yet--laughably--they also declare that, Manchin's drop in popularity notwithstanding, the first term U.S. Senator is "unbeatable" for the coming year's election.  What a transparently partisan bunch PPP is!  But that has always been the case.

We have noted PPP's coming to Manchin's rescue at just the right time before, as when GOP U.S. Senate nominee John Raese was winning the race for Byrd's seat over Manchin this year.  Suddenly, Manchin's friends from North Carolina came just when he needed it most, despite PPP having rarely shown an interest in West Virginia politics ever before.

So why is PPP coming into the picture again now?

That's easy.  Because Joe Manchin doesn't want a tough competitor next year. Actually, Manchin has reason to be worried.  If the PPP poll is right at all, Manchin's performance in the U.S. Senate has left more West Virginians unimpressed, as compared to how they felt towards him as Governor. PPP knows this, just as Manchin knows this.  So voila, PPP acknowledges Manchin's slip in popularity; but they hasten to add like a good p.r. flak for the Senator that he is "unbeatable."

Things would be so much easier if PPP would just acknowledge that they are first Democratic flaks and secondly polling professionals.

After all, many people said the same thing about Manchin before last year's campaign between him and Republican John Raese.  Many in the state's power circles said loudly and often that Manchin was "unbeatable."  But John Raese's polling data must have said something else.  The GOP nominee had the best of the Raese-Manchin campaign on the issues, until Manchin unleashed a savage, personal, negative attack ad war similar to the one he waged unsuccessfully against State Senator Charlotte Pritt in the 1996 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

So when we see PPP trotted out to tell us something, it pays to look for the real message.  In this case, the real message is that Manchin really wants no one of Raese's stature and self-funding capacity in this race.  Manchin has been damaged since the last election, with a drawn out federal investigation, controversial votes in support of the Obama Administration, and a rather undistinguished Washington tenure.  So he longs for an easy campaign.

PPP is Manchin's canary, brought into the coal mine of public opinion to test the air for the nervous Senator. PPP is trying very hard for their Democratic candidate, but it will take more than a poll with its absurd analysis that contradicts its own numbers. How can any candidate who almost lost last time with a greater popularity rating be so totally secure now with lesser numbers?

Only PPP and Alice in Wonderland can explain that one.


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