President Joe Biden's approval ratings continue to crater and are now so incredibly low that many in his own party are starting to question his 2024 reelection viability.
In fact, some Democrats are questioning whether or not they even want to remain Democrats.
That includes West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who is increasingly critical of the president and his own party.
Manchin is part of a smallish group of centrist Democratic senators, including Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who often vote against or openly oppose policies backed by Biden and more progressive senators.
Known for his attempts to reach bipartisan agreements on major issues, Manchin has worked with members from both sides of the political spectrum, such as on the Inflation Reduction Act, according to the Washington Examiner.
But after he went out on a limb with his voters to back the bill, Biden and fellow Democratic senators pulled a bait-and-switch and failed to follow through on promises to enhance fossil fuel exploration and gas line production, both of which are vital to West Virginia's economy.
And that hasn't sat well with Manchin. That, and he's got two Republicans who are challenging him for reelection next year, if he decides to run for the Senate rather than as a third-party option for president under the moderate "No Labels" party.
“I’ve been part of No Labels since December of 2010. It’s the only game in town that wants to bring people together and get Democrats and Republicans working together,” Manchin said recently, according to The Hill.
Last week, Republican West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced that he is running for Manchin's seat. He is joining Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) in the race as the GOP is looking to secure what could be the easiest Senate seat to win with an eye towards taking back the majority in the chamber.
According to recent polls, Justice seems to be Manchin’s strongest challenger in the Senate race. He is the only Republican candidate who is ahead of Manchin in the polls. Justice has a popularity rating of 64%, which suggests that many Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in West Virginia approve of his work as governor.
The Examiner added: “The entry of Justice into the race is further sparking speculation that Manchin, who has beaten his Republican opponents handily since his first race in 2010, may want to avoid a close battle with narrower odds and try his hand at running for president. However, given he is not expected to make a decision until January 2024, it is likely he will keep an eye on Justice’s polling in the later 2023 months before announcing his next steps.”
Whatever Manchin decides to do next year, he doesn't have an easy path to victory as is
But if he sheds the Democratic Party moniker, his path to a successful campaign could be a ton easier.