As somebody from West Virginia who has to chime in here more than I’d like because there aren’t a ton of us and Manchin is a constant topic of conversation, Manchin got elected because he really is great at constituent outreach over the years. That was enough to get him over the hump of people voting against him because of the D in his name.
I get really annoyed the oversimplified takes of people who constantly say “well it’s West Virginia, it’s as liberal a candidate as they can elect.” Not really. Yes, there’s a Republican wall. WV politics is complicated, but remember it was a Democratic stronghold for _almost a century_ before the party and the state started cooling on each other at the turn of the millennium. It’s the epicenter of the coal industry that literally birthed America’s radical labor movement. Remember that Bernie did pretty well there in 2016, even in head-to-head polls against Trump.
Dems’ trouble getting elected in WV is less about whether they’re conservative-enough-for-a-Democrat and more about can they convince enough voters that they as an individual candidate that they can overcome the consistent number of those who come out to vote Republican every election. There are still more registered Democrats in WV than Republicans, though that balance shifts every year. There’s absolutely nothing that says a populist socialist or Fetterman type couldn’t win in WV, it’s just the case that none have been able to break through. Heck, if Ojeda had played his cards right he could be challenging Capito for her seat. The fact that the DCCC and DCSC don’t give any money to WV candidates doesn’t help.
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