That said, Manchin might be better off if he left the Democratic Party and ran as an independent. It will just be really hard for Manchin to win otherwise. Only Wyoming voted more Republican than West Virginia in the 2020 presidential election. And despite a blue wave in the 2018 midterm elections, Manchin won reelection by his slimmest margin yet — about 3 points. Moreover, running as a Republican isn’t really an option for Manchin. It’s true that he scores well among Republican voters in West Virginia — a Morning Consult poll recently found 44 percent approved of him — but he would undoubtedly have a challenging time winning a GOP primary, having voted to impeach former President Donald Trump in February.
So there’s clearly some appeal for Manchin to run as an independent, as he would avoid having to run in a GOP primary while also shedding the national Democratic Party label that’s become toxic to many West Virginians. But this formula is no guarantee of success, as it could easily be upset if a more liberal Democrat ran as the Democratic standard-bearer and garnered a decent chunk of the Democratic vote, likely ensuring a GOP victory.
Yet while one can make a fairly convincing electoral case for why Manchin should consider switching parties, it’s most likely he’ll stay where he is considering the enormous amount of leverage he has. He essentially can veto any proposal he disagrees with while also working within his party to adjust legislation to better reflect what he wants. And because Democrats have full control of government, he’s more likely to get laws passed that are agreeable to him.
Sources: HotAir: Could Manchin actually leave the Democratic Party?