Of course it sucks for Joe Manchin. Here's why

Sen. Joe Manchin has been on a mission the last few weeks to spread the word that "Washington sucks," as if people di...

Posted: Feb 1, 2018 6:56 PM
Updated: Feb 1, 2018 6:57 PM

Sen. Joe Manchin has been on a mission the last few weeks to spread the word that "Washington sucks," as if people didn't know.

At first, the West Virginia Democrat made the complaint because of the way the House and Senate are run -- with an iron fist by the party leaders in charge of the bodies (right now, it's Republicans, but you can bet that Democrats would control which bills get votes in just about exactly the same way). There's an emphasis on party loyalty, bills are produced outside of regular order.

The latest reason Manchin says Washington sucks is that Republicans, in the form of Vice President Mike Pence -- and President Donald Trump is sure to follow -- are targeting him, in particular for his opposition to their tax reform law.

"In WV a few months ago & I spoke to the WV Chamber of Commerce. @Sen_JoeManchin was there -- & I looked him in the eye and I told him, 'Joe, the people of the Mountain State are counting on you,' so let's 'get this tax cut done together.' But #JoeVotedNo." Pence tweeted Wednesday.

That drew a statement from Manchin driving home his point about Washington sucking.

"The vice president's comments are exactly why Washington Sucks," Manchin said. "I'm disappointed in his comments but will continue to work to make Washington work so West Virginia and our country work."

It might suck, but Manchin's predicament should come as no surprise to him or anyone else.

He's something of a unicorn in the nation's capital -- a Democrat who represents West Virginia, which has become one of the reddest states in the country. He opposed the tax bill, but was among the few from his side of the aisle to stand and applaud portions of the State of the Union address Tuesday, for instance.

How red has West Virginia become? Gallup released a survey of Trump's job approval by state in 2017. He got the highest approval rating in ... West Virginia, where they gave him a 61% approval rating. National polls have him well below 50%. (Republican lawmakers, by the way, are holding a retreat at the Greenbrier there Thursday and Trump spoke to attendees. He's visited the state twice before as President already.)

West Virginia has realigned its party preference around Joe Manchin, by the way. He was governor before he was senator, and back then -- not that long ago! -- the state had two Democratic senators. It was a swing state until about the George W. Bush administration. But as national Democrats have focused on climate change as an issue, they have become less friendly in the coal-dependent state. Trump has put himself forth as a champion of coal. It's harder and harder for someone like Manchin to represent the state's interest as a Democrat.

That was evident when he won his came to the Senate in a special election to fill the term of Sen. Robert Byrd after he passed away. Manchin ran an ad where he literally fired a bullet from a rifle into "cap and trade" legislation that Democrats, who were then in charge, pushed as a way to combat climate change. The ad also made very clear he had the backing of the National Rifle Association (which he's since lost). Manchin has been flouting party orthodoxy for his entire time in DC.

Margins matter in Washington and there has been a wave of opposition to the Republican President and Democrats are going to do everything they can to take control of Congress in November. And Republicans are going to do everything they can to keep it. As they should.

CNN's Key Races - House

Control of the Senate matters very much for Trump and his Republican fellows. That tax bill -- their signature (and really only) legislative achievement so far -- was passed with some creative interpretation of Senate budget rules that allowed them to bypass the filibuster and pass the law to fundamentally change the country's tax system with a bare majority of 51 senators. It was 52-48 until Democrats scored an upset with the election of Doug Jones in deep red Alabama. If they didn't control the Senate, that tax bill never would have come up for a vote, at least not in a way that permanently cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and unduly effected blue states with higher state and local taxes.

That's a job that seems eminently achievable in the House, where, according to Gallup, the President's party traditionally loses an average of 36 seats in a midterm in which the President's approval rating is below 50%. Democrats need 24 to take the majority. Trump's approval rating, while it has improved since the passage of a marquis tax bill, is currently teetering in the high 30s and low 40s, depending on the poll.

It's a different story in the Senate, where the national sentiment seems to favor Democrats in 2018, but the electoral map favors Republicans, who are defending just 8 seats compared to Democrats' 26.

In CNN's Key Race ratings released this week, Republicans are defending only two seats rated as "tossup" and Democrats are defending three, including Manchin's.

CNN's Key Races - Senate

In order to take control of the Senate, Democrats essentially have to keep all of their own seats and take two from Republicans. If Manchin loses, they have to take a seat that currently leans Republican. It's the political equivalent of shooting the moon. The margins, no matter what, are going to be incredibly thin. This ain't going to be beanbag in 2018.

And it's not going to be easy for either party. West Virginia isn't the only state where the President is popular and Democrats are hoping to re-elect a senator. Trump's approval rating was at 57% in North Dakota and 52% in Montana, where Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester, respectively, hope to hang on. Despite Trump's popularity there, CNN rates Heitkamp and Tester in the "Lean Democratic" column. Trump is at 50% in the Gallup poll in Tennessee, Democrats' only real (and this may be wishful thinking for them) pickup opportunity in a red state. The two seriously competitive Republican-held seats are in Nevada and Arizona.

The bottom line is that Manchin came to the Senate as a Democrat standing up to Democrats and he's trying to stay in the Senate as a Democrat in a very red state. That he's in this position shows his skill as a politician, but it's also not a surprise that it's uncomfortable. It probably does suck.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 539829

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798271529
Mobile41261809
Madison35132506
Tuscaloosa25915455
Shelby25294249
Montgomery24705593
Baldwin21392310
Lee15987172
Calhoun14569319
Morgan14422280
Etowah13918353
Marshall12275225
Houston10641282
Elmore10147206
Limestone10065151
St. Clair9946245
Cullman9761194
Lauderdale9457243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8339176
Walker7260278
Autauga7001108
Jackson6836112
Blount6771139
Colbert6320135
Coffee5578118
Dale4876113
Russell445138
Chilton4369113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394777
Chambers3590123
Dallas3568153
Clarke351461
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302698
Winston275773
Bibb264564
Geneva254078
Marengo249665
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale223978
Butler219069
Fayette212662
Henry189643
Cherokee184645
Randolph182442
Monroe178141
Washington167739
Macon161150
Clay157157
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143236
Lowndes140553
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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