Joe Manchin Not Sure He’ll Vote For Obama

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is a Democrat, but he doesn’t sound so sure about voting for the Democratic candidate for President:

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who has done more than any other Democrat up for reelection this year to distance himself from President Obama, said he does not know if he will vote for Obama or presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in November.

“I’ll look at the options,” Manchin said this week. The last three years “have made it pretty rough” for his state, he said.

That stance is at odds with almost every other Democrat who is up for reelection this year or is from a state that Romney is likely to win. And it’s an indication of the unique effort Manchin has made to establish his independence from Obama and other Democrats. The senator has regularly used floor speeches and closely watched votes to, as he puts it, “respectfully” highlight differences with Obama, especially on environmental issues. He said Obama has never called him or sought a one-on-one conversation.

Manchin said his own vote will depend on how his constituents view the contest.

“The people in West Virginia, they basically look at the candidates—whatever you’re running for, whether it be the president itself, or whatever—[they look at] the performance and the result that’s been attained,” Manchin said when asked how he will vote. “Right now in West Virginia, these first three and a half years haven’t been that good to West Virginia. So, then you look [at] what the options will be, who will be on the other end.”

Calling it all but “inevitable that Governor Romney will be that person” on the Republican side, Manchin said it remains to be seen whether his constituents “feel connected” to Romney. Romney’s support for the budget plan offered by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., raises the question of whether that proposal “basically attacks entitlement in an unfair way,” Manchin said. The state has a high percentage of residents relying on federal benefits.

“I am just waiting for it to play out. I am not jumping in one way or another,” Manchin said. “I’m worried about me. I’ve said it’s not a team sport. You need to go out and work for yourself.”

This isn’t entirely surprising. As noted, Manchin has established himself as fairly independent during the time he’s been in office. Indeed, there was some speculation prior to the 2010 election that Manchin might caucus with the GOP if they ended up gaining control of the Senate that year. And, when he was Governor of West Virginia he governed as a relative conservative, reflecting the characteristics of a state that has not gone Democratic in a Presidential election since 1996.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Manchin represents a working class state with blue collar industries; the antithesis of Beverly Hills, New Caanan, Tribeca and Pacific Heights. 1+1=2.

  2. MBunge says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “Manchin represents a working class state with blue collar industries”

    And the GOP and modern conservatism has done WONDERS for those kind of people over the last 30 years, haven’t they?


  3. @MBunge: To be fair, I’m not sure things like increased corporate taxes are going to do anything better. The kind of people states are trying to woo to their business would do business in Zimbabwe if it helped the bottom line.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    “Manchin represents a working class state with blue collar industries; the antithesis of Beverly Hills, New Caanan, Tribeca and Pacific Heights. 1+1=2.”

    I’ve always considered West Virginia to be analogous to the Cayman Islands. Also, working class West Virginians certainly admire presidential candidates who have made their fortune by acquiring companies, closing operations, and laying off American Workers. I mean, what working class American doesn’t admire that?

  5. bobbo says:

    Not sure “independent” is the word you’re looking for here. “Finger in the wind?” “Cowardly?” “Spineless?” “Narcissistic?”

  6. walt moffett says:

    Might be hard to vote for a candidate who brings uncertainity about your state’s economy. However, these low information, fail-to-recognize-their-own-interests folks really matter little in the electoral college calculations.

  7. West Virginia is like most of the south in the 70´s and 80´s: they´ll vote Democratic, but they will vote for the right kind of Democrat. They like Southern moderates like Carter and Clinton(They even voted for Dukakis), but not the Northern Liberals that democrats insists in nominating. No wonder that they refuse to vote Democratic, considering the disdain that Liberal Democrats feel for them.

  8. StrangernFiction says:

    Joe Manchin’s vote ratings for 2011:

    ACU – 15
    Heritage Action – 12
    National Taxpayer’s Union – 23
    Club for Growth – 14

    Yeah, this guy’s a real moderate.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    the numbers seem to indicate that he’s not insane