"I'll look at the options," Manchin told National Journal
last month, when asked which presidential candidate he plans to vote for. The last three years "have made it pretty rough" for his state, he added.
According to Gallup, Obama's average approval rating among West Virginians was an abysmal 33 percent in 2011. In only three other states was it lower. The state's coal industry has also forced Tomblin and Manchin to keep their distance from the administration's environmental stance.
The line Manchin and Tomblin are walking is a thin one. Moving too far away from the Democratic Party also carries the risk of backlash. The Charleston Gazette
editorial board recently called
Manchin a "DINO" in some regards. Four days later, Manchin penned an op-ed
in the same paper explaining that he is a "West Virginia Democrat" and not a "Washington Democrat."