Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counter-terrorism operations on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 28, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool via Reuters)

In a piece for the Associated Press, republished and promoted by ABC News and other outlets, reporters Lisa Mascaro and Farnoush Amiri lament the “Power of One,” asserting that “[Senator Joe] Manchin is singularly halting Biden’s agenda.”

The article begins by taking note of the effort of prominent Democrats to get Manchin, the senior senator from West Virginia, to support the Biden administration’s massive Build Back Better spending program. “The president at one point even” gave Manchin a tour of his personal home in Delaware, readers learn.

Even despite the tour though, Manchin continues to oppose the bill in its current form. It’s “an extraordinary display of political power,” according to the authors, apparently stunned at the ability of legislators to either support or oppose the bills before them. “A single senator is about to seriously set back an entire presidential agenda,” they marvel. In truth, 51 individual senators — a majority of the upper chamber — oppose Build Back Better.

The next leg of the piece includes quotes from Manchin’s Democratic colleagues — they’re “frustrated and disappointed” — as well as the authors’ assertion that Manchin “has emerged as an uneven negotiator — bending norms and straining relationships because he says one thing one day and another the next, adjusting his positions, demands and rationale along the way.” They cite no examples.

And while they find the space to mention that Manchin served “as governor of a state that surveys show ranked 47th in the nation for health care outcomes and 45th in education,” before going on to represent it in the Senate, they fail to document the proximate cause for Manchin’s reluctance to vote for Build Back Better: It’s extremely unpopular in West Virginia.

According to the Remington Research Group, 53 percent of West Virginians “strongly oppose” the legislation. Just a combined 37 percent either “somewhat support” or “strongly support” it. Moreover, 89 percent of the state’s residents are either “somewhat” or “very concerned” about inflation, with 73 percent falling into the latter category. Sixty-four percent believe that Build Back Better’s passage would result in even more dramatic price spikes.

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