Part of the reason Manchin has survived in the increasingly red state of West Virginia is because he’s built a reputation as a true moderate. He is known for dashing Democratic dreams large and small while finding chances to back Republican priorities.
And it’s exactly these big moments—when Sanders and like-minded Democrats express their endless frustration with Manchin—that help him burnish the gadfly credentials needed for a Democrat to survive in a state that went for Donald Trump in 2020 by 38 points.
So, despite visits from angry kayakers, millions of dollars spent on ad campaigns pressuring him, thousands of calls to his office, and countless meetings with various constituents, Manchin has so far not budged a dollar on the Democrats’ signature legislation.
If anything, he’s doubled down.