Manchin in the Middle: Democrat Senator Weighs Leaving Party or Running as Independent

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) He claims that he “thinks seriously” about leaving the Democratic Party by the time the 2024 elections come around.

“I am thinking seriously.” Peace of mind is important to me. The D and R brands have become terrible brands. In West Virginia, it is the D brand as if it were the national trademark. He told West Virginia radio host Hoppy Kercheval that it was not the Democrats of West Virginia but the Democrats from Washington. You’ve heard my adage a million times that I’m not a Washington Democrat.

Manchin said that he has been considering this issue for some time but hasn’t taken any action. Manchin’s departure from the Democratic Party was rumored to be in October 2021. Manchin denied the rumors saying “I cannot control rumors and it’s nonsense.” However, he acknowledged that he is approached “every day” by Republicans to switch parties. He also said it would probably be “easier’ for him to join the GOP rather than remain a Democrat.

He’s not even mentioning joining the GOP right now. He would become Independent if he left the Democratic Party.

It’s not surprising that Manchin will likely lose his reelection bid as a Democrat. Kyrsten Sinema, a senator from Arizona who left the Democratic Party in 2013, still belongs to the Democratic caucus. Manchin is likely to follow suit.

As an independent in 2024, Democrats would be able to run their own candidate, giving Manchin the chance to win a three-way race. Sinema, according to polls, could be the spoiler in the three-way race in Arizona for Republicans. However, Manchin as an independent is unlikely to be that spoiler in a state where Trump won overwhelmingly in 2020.

It’s true that Manchin has managed to get elected and reelected as a Democrat in a red state. However, he’s experienced diminishing margins of victory in his Senate contests since 2012. He won comfortably in 2012 by 24 points, but he only narrowly won his reelection in 2018 against Republican candidate Patrick Morrisey and didn’t even break 50%. A recent poll from East Carolina University’s Center for Survey Research showed that Manchin trailing his potential GOP challenger, Gov. Jim Justice, by 22 points, and he has a net negative approval rating of -26 points.

In a three-way race, it is unlikely that Manchin will pull away support from Justice if another Democrat is on the ballot. Manchin will likely retire if he realizes this and does not want to risk losing.