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Here's why Manchin, Romney and Collins are about to wield serious Senate power

Here's why Manchin, Romney and Collins are about to wield serious Senate power
© Greg Nash

Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists Outrage grows as Justice seeks to contain subpoena fallout Senate Judiciary begins investigation into DOJ lawmaker subpoenas MORE. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezAdams, Garcia lead in NYC mayor's race: poll House Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' This week: Democrats face fractures in spending fight MORE. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellHouse Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists Outrage grows as Justice seeks to contain subpoena fallout Senate Judiciary begins investigation into DOJ lawmaker subpoenas MORE. Stacey Abrams: These are the ubiquitous media darlings of the left. 

Reps. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Swalwell (D-Calif.) alone have conducted hundreds of interviews during the Trump era, mainly to talk about the president’s ties to Russia without evidence. AOC has released countless videos on social media during that time to her 20 million Twitter and Instagram followers. Abrams – who also took major issue with elections in Georgia while claiming her 2018 gubernatorial run was stolen from her – has yet to concede in downright Trumpian defiance but isn't accused by the press of tearing down democracy. Funny how that works. 

Moderates in both parties, conversely, don't seem to get the same kind of ink and airtime. Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseGOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Pence: Trump and I may never 'see eye to eye' on events of Jan. 6 White House: Biden will not appoint presidential Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Neb.) is a good example of a moderate who doesn't run to a microphone or his phone to share every thought on any topic going through his head. Same with Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate confirms Garland's successor to appeals court Bipartisan infrastructure deal takes fire from left and right Outrage grows as Justice seeks to contain subpoena fallout MORE (R-Maine) or Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate confirms Garland's successor to appeals court McConnell warns he's willing to intervene in 2022 GOP primaries Pelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals MORE (R-Alaska) or Joe ManchinJoe ManchinIn Congress, what goes on behind closed doors? Jayapal to Dems: Ditch bipartisanship, go it alone on infrastructure Harris discusses voting rights with advocates in South Carolina MORE (D-W.V.) or Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Biden's European trip Pelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals What the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship MORE (R-Utah). All speak to the press on occasion, much to MAGA Trump supporters’ chagrin, but aren't exactly Kardashian-esque in their (over) exposure.  

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But after what appears to be a Democratic sweep of two runoffs in the formerly deep-red state of Georgia, it won't be the loudest voices on either side of the aisle who have more power, but the aforementioned moderates. In the House, as we saw with Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNew Mexico Democrat Stansbury sworn into Haaland's old seat Greene apologizes for comparing vaccine rules to Holocaust Overnight Health Care: Biden pleads for more people to get vaccinated | Harris highlights COVID-19 vaccination safety | Novavax COVID-19 vaccine shown highly effective in trial MORE's (D-Calif.) razor-thin re-election victory as speaker, which required a reckless Pelosi allowing two Democratic House members who tested positive for COVID-19 to vote in person, the Blue Team's majority is almost non-existent (222-211, the smallest spread since World War II). 

In the Senate, same deal, where we’re looking at a 50-50 split with Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris highlights COVID-19 vaccination safety, efficacy in SC event to kick off tour Kamala Harris is still not ready for primetime (much less 2024) Lara Trump calls on Americans at border to 'arm up and get guns and be ready' MORE serving as the tiebreaker. But know this: The assumption that either party will be in complete, unanimous lockstep is a farcical one.   

Romney and Collins and especially Manchin will have unprecedented leverage. In a related story, Manchin has sided with the GOP more often than Democrats would like. He has voiced fierce opposition to the AOC-led defund-the-police movement. He once proclaimed he would oppose "crazy stuff" such as expansion of the Supreme Court and eliminating the filibuster, which by extension would dash any hope of expansion of the Senate through D.C. statehood. And without Manchin on board for those big-ticket items, or Romney or Collins or Murkowski defecting (which isn't happening on those issues), the Senate never even gets to that tie-breaking vote by the vice president. 

“I think we have a golden opportunity to bring the country back together and for us to work in the middle,” Manchin recently told the New York Times. “I’ll tell you the reason why: The numbers are so close with what the Democratic House members lost. For Nancy Pelosi, she’s going to have to work with people that have a more moderate view than some of the people that pushed her from the left.”  

“It behooves everybody to start working together,” Manchin continued. “If they don’t, it doesn’t take many of us to say, ‘Guys, we’ve given all of you a chance. We haven’t done our job for the last 10 years, and we’re going to start.’”  

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Yep. And according to Mark PennMark PennPoll shows signs of economic optimism, but inflation concerns rise Poll: Americans split on Jan. 6 commission Biden's job approval ticks upward to 62 percent, poll finds MORE, managing director of the Stagwell Group and chairman of the Harris Poll, despite the tribal food fights we see so often on cable news, the silent majority of Americans want compromise. 

"Overwhelming majorities want to see more of it and less grandstanding," Penn, who served as chief strategist on Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMonica Lewinsky signs production deal with 20th TV Police investigating death of TV anchor who uncovered Clinton tarmac meeting as suicide It's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda MORE’s 1996 presidential campaign and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNSA leaker Reality Winner released from federal prison Monica Lewinsky signs production deal with 20th TV Police investigating death of TV anchor who uncovered Clinton tarmac meeting as suicide MORE’s 2008 presidential campaign, told me regarding the appetite for compromise. 

The sentiment is expanded upon in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed in which Penn writes that the country is more moderate to center-right than traditional media portrays it to be.

"Only 24 percent of voters identify as liberal, while 38% say they’re conservative, according to CNN exit polls," Penn notes. "Another 38 percent are moderate. Despite the widespread publicity given the left, since 2014—a good year for Republicans—the percentage of self-identified liberals declined 2 points, while the share of conservatives increased 3 points. 

"Yes — a visitor from outer space watching our media would think we are 75 percent liberal or all like D.C. or Hollywood," Penn explained to me in summary. "They would be shocked to learn 76 percent of Americans are moderate or conservative." 

You may see lots of the Schiffs and the Swalwells and Ocasio-Cortezes in the media. 

Those folks may have the passion. But they won't have the power. What happens next will likely mean a further fracturing of both parties. Because compromise may be embraced by the electorate but is also increasingly a dirty word in the D.C. swamp and political media that are built on conflict. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill and a Fox News contributor.