Senator Joe Manchin still can't quite match the popularity of Governor Joe Manchin. But he's getting there. Our final poll conducted while Manchin was still Governor of West Virginia found him with a 70% approval rating and only 22% of voters disapproving. After he moved to the Senate his approval numbers took a downward turn- in January his approval was 52% and in April it was 55%. Now he's up to 59% approval with only 26% disapproving and that ties him for the 5th most popular Senator in the country out of 87 sitting ones that PPP has polled on. The only ones even better liked by their constituents are Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, John Barrasso and Mike Enzi of Wyoming, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont
Manchin's numbers continue to follow an unusual pattern. His 68/20 approval with Democrats actually isn't that great for a Senator within his own party. That's due to voters on the left not being terribly enthralled with him- he's at only 50/38 with folks describing themselves as 'very liberal' and that's the ideological group he does worst with. It's safe to say Manchin is the only Democratic Senator in the country who's more popular with 'very conservative' voters than 'very liberal' ones. Manchin more than makes up for his somewhat middling numbers with Democrats by posting a 55/28 spread with independents and most remarkably a 46/36 one with Republicans. There are few Senators who meet with more approval than disapproval across party lines.
If Manchin had to stand for reelection this year he'd be close to unbeatable. Shelley Moore Capito continues to be his strongest potential opponent. She has a 51/33 favorability rating and the amount of crossover support from Democrats that a Republicans needs to win statewide in West Virginia. But despite all that she trails Manchin by 16 points in a hypothetical match up, 52-36. And she doesn't seem that likely to run anyway.
There's not a terribly long Republican bench in West Virginia. We tested the state's other GOP Congressman, David McKinley, as well and he trails Manchin by 36 points at 60-24. He probably has his hands too full with winning a 2nd term in the House to even think about challenging Manchin. And 2010 opponent John Raese would start at a 39 point deficit to Manchin, 62-23. He likely wouldn't come anywhere close to doing as well as he did even last year in a repeat bid.
Manchin's position is always a little tenuous as a Democrat in a state that totally hates Barack Obama. But at least for now he doesn't appear to have much to worry about.
Full results here