Bringing to an end to months of speculation, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin announced Thursday he will not seek reelection, virtually handing Republicans at least one of the two seats they need to make their dream of a Senate majority a reality in 2024. Our rating of this contest now moves to Solid Republican.

Manchin has been a political unicorn in the Mountain State, winning reelection even as the state has moved from ancestrally Democratic to solidly Republican at the federal level, having voted for former President Trump by 39 points in 2020. Democrats have no bench in the state. And even if they did, it’s hard to find someone who could replicate the kind of crossover appeal Manchin had, from winning multiple statewide races, including two terms as governor, to winning a Senate special election in the difficult 2010 cycle and two subsequent contests.

Even if Manchin had run, he faced difficult odds. His popularity in the state had plummeted. A recent Morning Consult survey found him underwater with voters back home, as 48% disapproved of the job

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