Manchin, Sinema filibuster support scores political points back home, GOP poll shows
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema’s (Ariz.) opposition to filibuster reform is scoring them points among voters in their states, according to conservative polling obtained by The Hill.
A pair of polls conducted for One Nation, a dark money group aligned with Senate GOP leadership, found that both Manchin and Sinema’s willingness to brush aside progressive calls to either reform the filibuster or do away with it altogether has translated into support back home, including from some Republicans.
In West Virginia, 59 percent of respondents said that Manchin’s pledge not to weaken or eliminate the filibuster makes them more likely to vote for him the next time he’s on the ballot in 2024. More than a quarter of respondents — 28 percent — said that Manchin’s vow makes them “much more likely” to back his reelection.
In a hypothetical scenario in which Manchin votes to do away with the filibuster, 53 percent of those surveyed said that they would be more likely to vote against him in 2024.
For Sinema, who has said that senators should focus on cooperation and compromise rather than changing the filibuster, the support was even starker. Nearly two-thirds of Arizona voters surveyed — at 65 percent — said that her position on the matter makes them more likely to support her, including 31 percent who said they are much more likely to do so.
Those who said they would be much more likely to vote for Sinema based on her comments on the filibuster include groups that Democrats typically struggle to win over, including married men and Republicans under the age of 45, according to the polling.
In contrast, only 17 percent of Arizona voters said that Sinema’s stated position on filibuster reform makes them more likely to vote against her.
Like Manchin, Sinema is up for reelection in 2024.
“In Arizona, support for the filibuster carries a strong upside, and little to no downside,” Brenda Gianiny, the president of the GOP polling firm Axis Research, wrote in a memo to One Nation.
The polling paints a different picture for Sen. Mark Kelly (D), Arizona’s junior senator who is up for reelection next year. Kelly has largely sidestepped questions about his position on changing the filibuster. But when told that he favors “change” when it comes to the procedure, Arizona voters reacted negatively, according to the GOP polling.
Forty-six percent of respondents said that Kelly’s position would make them more likely to vote against him next year. In Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous, that number rose to 49 percent.
“Arizona voters were clear in the survey data: Sinema’s approach to keeping the filibuster in order to ‘change behavior’ and ‘work together’ is strongly favored over Kelly’s approach to ‘change’ the longstanding Senate procedure,” Gianiny wrote.
The filibuster, a longstanding procedure that allows senators to block or delay legislation that falls short of a 60-vote threshold, has become a political volleyball in recent years.
Democrats, who narrowly control the upper chamber, are pushing to either reform the practice or abolish it altogether, arguing that it prevents the majority from advancing meaningful legislation by giving outsized power to just a few individuals.
Republicans, meanwhile, vehemently oppose Democratic efforts to do away with the procedure, fearing that it would take away their power to block key parts of President Biden and Democrats’ legislative agenda.
Manchin, a lifelong Democrat from one of the most conservative states in the country, has emerged as the most ardent foe within his own party of changing or abolishing the filibuster. Sinema is facing criticism from progressive groups in Arizona over her opposition to filibuster reform.
Given that Democrats control only 50 seats in the Senate and Republicans in the chamber are universally opposed to changing or eliminating the filibuster, the success of the Democrats’ efforts will largely come down to winning over Manchin and Sinema.
The polling, however, shows little incentive for them to join their party’s leadership in reforming the procedure.
The polling was conducted from April 11 to 18 by Axis Research and is based on responses from 515 registered West Virginia voters and 459 registered Arizona voters. The margin of error for the West Virginia results is plus or minus 4.41 percentage points and plus or minus 4.67 points for the Arizona sample.
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