Kryzanek noted that American voters are polarized, but that many on both sides “want change and more youthful leadership.”
At 76, Manchin isn’t a youthful option. But he may be able to tap into frustration with the two major political parties.
“This is a difficult time for those running for national office. Americans do not trust politicians and are angry at the state of the nation,” Kryzanek said.
Effect on Congress
Manchin’s decision to leave the U.S. Senate may hurt the Democrats’ chances of keeping it in 2024.
Democrats currently control the Senate by a margin of 51-49 — which includes three independents who caucus with the Democrats.
Manchin was facing a tough campaign for a third term. An October poll found him 13 points behind a likely Republican challenger in right-leaning West Virginia.
But Manchin was far from a write-off next year. He weathered the Donald Trump storm in 2018, winning reelection by three points in the state that voted more lopsidedly for Trump in 2016 than any other.
“This is not good news for the Democrats,” Kryzanek said, noting “even though he was a thorn in the side of progressives and an unsure vote on many Democrat issues, especially on climate change, he did support some of Biden's agenda.”
“With a current 51-49 split in the Senate a Republican pickup would make for a significant problem for the Democrats, forcing them to flip a seat somewhere else. The Democrats are already in trouble in states like Montana and Nevada so there is real concern over his decision even if he was an unreliable vote for Biden,” Kryzanek said of Manchin.
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Manchin is a remnant of a type of politician who used to be common in national politics — the Democratic centrist with an immigrant family history who identifies strongly with the Catholic Church.
In the video announcement Thursday, Manchin described an argument he had with his father when he first told him he wanted to run for office.
His father thought of politics as a dirty business, but Manchin won him over by quoting the most famous sentence from President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
“My family were devoted Catholics who immigrated from Italy and Czechoslovakia. So to us, President Kennedy was held in the highest regard. And I knew President Kennedy’s words would sway my dad,” Manchin said in the video.
This article was updated on Fri., Nov. 10, 2023.