The disconnect between Democratic opponents of filibuster reform (which now may include Sen. Dianne Feinstein, though she has been admittedly confused on the issue over the past several months) and the reality on the ground that everyone but them can see is turning into real anger. For both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, that anger is hitting home. Literally, at home—in their home states.
In West Virginia, activists are mobilizing in response to Manchin’s brushing off of leaders of the West Virginia NAACP last month and piss-poor justification for not signing onto S.1, the For the People voting rights bill. He spent just 15 minutes on the phone with the state NAACP leaders before passing the call off to staff. “We were very unsatisfied with his response and how short of a meeting he had with us,” said Owens Brown, president of the West Virginia NAACP. Then, despite follow-up from Brown, the WV NAACP didn’t learn that Manchin was opposing S.1 until that op-ed on June 6, the one where he said he’s opposing restoring voting rights. “He’s chosen his side, and his side is not the Black community,” said Jennifer Wells, senior organizer at Community Change Action, who wants to remind Manchin that West Virginia’s Black voters were key in his narrow victory last time around. “If we all sat on our hands and stayed home, we would have an impact.”
That’s the message Arizona activists want Kyrsten Sinema to hear as well. Alejandra Gomez, co-executive director of the community organizing group LUCHA, helped get Sinema elected. She went door to door in 2018 in Arizona and helped Sinema get her three-point win, and now she is pissed at what she and other Arizona activist see as a complete betrayal.
“What has happened is a complete slap in the face to our members, to the work they have done and to the change that they are trying to make in our communities,” Gomez said. “If she is not part of the solution, she is part of the problem. And what we are seeing is that she is touting herself as a bipartisan leader, but we have yet to see where the bipartisanship stands. She has done nothing.”
“We are prepared to support a viable candidate that is ready to actually stand for our communities,” Gomez said, and when asked about whether that risks a Republican winning the seat, she minces no words. “We already have a Republican in that seat,” she said.
This isn’t an empty threat. Sinema’s sharp veer to the right resulted in big dip in her approval numbers according to Civiqs tracking, as Markos detailed back in March and again in May. At the end of March, her favorability rating stood at 24%—just a quarter of voters approved of her, while 44% disapproved. Those numbers held in early May.
Those numbers are getting no better for her, at all, in June. They’re not trending her way at all, ticking up to 47% unfavorable among all voters.
Ouch. Sinema has gone from a +6 net favorable rating to -20 in March, to a -24 now.
Maybe she thinks she’ll make up all that ground with Republicans. Maybe she thinks Sen. Mitch McConnell will go easy on her in 2024 because she hung out at the border with Republican Sen. John Cornyn. Maybe she’s utterly delusional. Here’s what Republican voters think of her:
She’s going to have to get results, which is what she’s attempting to do with the bipartisan Senate infrastructure group that may or may not have come up with some kind of agreement this week. “I do think she’s hoping that she’s going to be able to broker some kind of a deal,” Julie Erfle, an Arizona communications consultant and AZMirror columnist, told CNN. “If she can do that, I think she has a win and she can say ‘listen, bipartisanship works.’ She’s gotta show something for taking this stand, she has to show some policy wins.”
The problem for Sinema is that she’s not in control of any of that. Nor is Joe Manchin, for all the genuflecting he’s been receiving lately.
McConnell is in control. He’s in charge of Republican votes, and he’s not going to let 10 of them do anything to advance a popular Democratic agenda. He’ll be more than happy to watch Manchin and Sinema go down in flames with voters.