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February 12, 2018

CHANGE: Joe Manchin’s Growing Peril: He’s acting a lot more vulnerable than the polls suggest. The West Virginia Democrat knows how challenging it will be to win over Trump voters in the president’s strongest state.

Despite being a critical cog in the Democrats’ hopes for a Senate majority, he telegraphed a retirement threat to The New York Times to prove he’s not a patsy for his party’s liberal wing. Under fire from Vice President Mike Pence for opposing the administration’s tax cut, he’s been complaining how much “Washington sucks” in an effort to portray himself as a congressional outsider. He’s now urging his colleagues not to campaign against any sitting senators, a move that is transparently in his (and the Democratic Party’s) own interest.

Caught between the demands of Democratic leadership to stick with the party on big votes and the culturally conservative nature of his constituents, he’s in an increasingly awkward position. Republicans gleefully circulated footage of him unsure of when to stand and applaud President Trump’s State of the Union address. Another popular anti-Manchin meme shows a split photo of the senator showcasing his support for Planned Parenthood at one event, while posing with antiabortion activists at another—both from 2017.

It’s hard to get the Deplorable-American community to vote for you when you’re part of the party that deplores them.