A new survey from Rep. Nick Rahall’s (D-W.Va.) campaign shows him holding a 13-point lead over Republican opponent, state Sen. Evan Jenkins and taking more than 50 percent of the vote.
The new survey aligns with two other recent Democratic polls that showed Rahall up by 9 and 12 points, but there's been little independent polling of the race.
Rahall is a top Republican target this cycle, as his district went for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by nearly two-thirds of the vote in 2012. And President Obama is deeply unpopular in West Virginia, in part, due to policies from his administration that have impacted the coal industry.
Those policies have become a focal point of Republican attacks, and one group affiliated with the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch has poured a reported $1.2 million into the district in advertising hammering primarily that theme. In response, Democratic group House Majority PAC has launched its own barrage of ads, tying Jenkins to the Kochs and charging that out-of-state billionaires are trying to buy the seat to serve their own purposes.
And the new poll indicates Rahall is still holding up against those attacks.
Fifty-six percent of voters view him favorably, while 39 percent view him unfavorably. In contrast, voters are split on Jenkins, with 25 percent viewing him positively, and 25 percent have a negative opinion of him.
Jenkins's campaign adviser Andy Sere noted, however, that this polling comes when GOP groups have spent much less attacking Rahall than House Majority PAC has spent boosting him — and that Rahall lost a quarter of the vote in his primary last week.
“It’s hard to take the Rahall campaign’s polling seriously when the survey they released in 2012 showed him up 28 points before winning by just 8 points, even after outspending his challenger 3 to 1. Despite the fact that Nancy Pelosi's House Majority PAC has spent nearly $1 million against Jenkins in the last 10 weeks — with virtually nothing spent against Rahall during that time period — these numbers don’t add up given that 34 percent of Rahall’s own Democratic primary voters just last week voted for his unknown, underfunded challenger," he said.
The survey was conducted among 502 likely voters by live interviews via landline and cellphone calls from May 12-14, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
— This piece was updated at 12:45 to reflect comment from the Jenkins campaign.