Joe Manchin Mulls Presidential Bid, Despite Lackluster Voter Enthusiasm

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, often labeled as a right-leaning Democrat, is teasing the political world with hints of a potential 2024 presidential run. After declaring he won’t seek re-election to the Senate, Manchin’s suggestion of a third-party candidacy has sparked both speculation and skepticism.

In a recent conversation on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” Manchin expressed his openness to the presidential race, albeit with a caveat – he plans to gauge national interest in a “moderate” candidate like himself. This announcement comes as his popularity in West Virginia dwindles, leading many to wonder about his viability on a national scale.

Manchin’s tenure in the Senate has been marked by controversy, especially among progressive circles. He’s been a thorn in the side of the Democratic agenda, from his opposition to LGBTQ and abortion rights to his role in diluting the Inflation Reduction Act’s climate provisions. His resistance played a significant part in the expiration of the child tax credit, pushing millions of children back into poverty, and his stance against sick leave for workers has further alienated him from the party’s base.

Speaking to West Virginia journalists, Manchin reiterated his willingness to run, but not at the cost of being a “spoiler” in the race. He acknowledged the danger of a Trump presidency resurgence, criticizing Trump’s divisive rhetoric and disregard for democratic principles.

However, the prospect of a Manchin candidacy doesn’t seem to worry everyone. Some Democrats believe his right-wing leanings might pull votes away from Trump rather than Biden. This speculation comes amid a broader desire for more presidential candidates, especially among younger, more progressive voters who find Manchin’s politics unappealing.

Polls reflect this lack of enthusiasm for Manchin. A recent Economist/YouGov poll shows 40% of Americans view him unfavorably, with only 24% favoring him. His standing even among moderates, his supposed core base, is not encouraging, with a net favorability of -11 points.

Elie Mystal of The Nation sums up the general sentiment: “The myth of Manchin as some kind of independent iconoclast has always been more powerful than the objective reality of Manchin: a coal lobbyist nobody trusts who lives on a houseboat.” In light of these factors, Manchin’s presidential aspirations seem more like a political sideshow than a credible threat to the current political landscape.