My new column for the FT looks at the WV Senate race.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of the race - and the most disturbing for Democrats - is Mr Manchin's response to his rival's surprising success. He has begun campaigning quite overtly against Mr Obama.
His most recent television advert is something to see. There he stands, loading a hunting rifle, and saying, "I'll take on Washington and this administration, and get the federal government off of our backs and out of our pockets. I'll cut federal spending and repeal the bad parts of Obamacare ... I'll take dead aim at the cap-and-trade bill, because it's bad for West Virginia." With that, he fires a round (dead centre at 50 yards) into a copy of the bill.
After two years of "Yes we can", this is what it takes to elect a Democrat in West Virginia. Note that the campaign themes in the ad are directed not to the economy or the need to spur jobs - much as West Virginia is suffering in that regard. They address the perception that government has over-reached, a charge that Democratic party leaders in Washington, including Mr Obama himself, seem determined to ignore.
Last night the two main contenders met (along with the Mountain party and Constitution party candidates, deservedly trailing far behind) in their only planned TV debate.
I thought Manchin was not just much the most impressive of the bunch, but the only one remotely fit for high office. Raese has a steady, confident presence, I grant you, and a fine baritone, but his views are anything but calm. He called Obamacare "pure unadulterated socialism". He is a full-frontal global-warming denier: (a) it isn't happening and (b) if it were, it wouldn't be our fault. On foreign policy: "My philosophy has always been very simple. We win, you lose." Once you understand that, I suppose, the rest is easy.