Dem poll: Manchin leads GOP opponent by 12 points

Dem poll: Manchin leads GOP opponent by 12 points
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSunday shows - Recession fears dominate Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Trump vows to 'always uphold the Second Amendment' amid ongoing talks on gun laws MORE (D-W.Va.) is leading his Republican challenger, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, by double digits, according to a Democratic poll released Tuesday.

A poll conducted by Geoff Garin of Hart Research Associates for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) found Manchin polling 12 points ahead of Morrisey, 52 percent to 40 percent.

The survey found that Manchin has a positive job approval rating, with 55 percent of those surveyed saying they approve, compared to 41 percent who disapprove. Meanwhile, Morrisey is viewed positively by 30 percent of voters and negatively by 36 percent.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE, who won the state by more than 40 points in 2016, remains popular in West Virginia despite lower national numbers. The poll found that 59 percent of voters view the president positively, while 30 percent view him negatively.

The poll, which was first reported by Politico, was conducted from May 15-16 and surveyed 602 likely voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Tuesday’s poll is good news for Manchin, who is considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection this cycle. He’s one of 10 Democratic incumbents running for another six-year term in a state that Trump won in 2016.

Other general election polls have suggested a tighter race. A week ago, Manchin’s campaign released an internal poll that showed the Democrat up 8 points, 50 percent to 42 percent. Meanwhile, a Republican poll from WPA Intelligence found Morrisey narrowly leading, 46 percent to 44 percent.

The Hart Research Associates survey was conducted about a week after the GOP primary, in which Morrisey defeated Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsWest Virginia New Members 2019 Republican Carol Miller holds off Democrat in West Virginia House race Trump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report MORE (W.Va.) and ex-coal CEO Don Blankenship earlier this month. Blankenship, who publicly feuded with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi, Schumer press for gun screenings as Trump inches away The malware election: Returning to paper ballots only way to prevent hacking First House Republican backs bill banning assault weapons MORE (R-Ky.) and his allies, said he won’t support Morrisey and is looking to mount a third-party bid to block the attorney general from winning in November.

During the campaign, Manchin has sought to portray himself as a moderate as well as someone who can have a working relationship with the president. But Trump has taken aim at Manchin in recent months, as Republicans seek to defend their slim 51-seat Senate majority.

At an April tax reform roundtable in West Virginia, Trump knocked Manchin for his vote against the GOP’s tax overhaul, urging voters to replace him in the fall. And during a closed-door meeting with GOP senators following the state’s May primary, Trump said he plans to travel to West Virginia to campaign against Manchin.

With both parties viewing West Virginia as a critical battleground, outside groups have already begun pouring money into the race.

Senate Majority PAC (SMP), a major Democratic super PAC, has spent nearly $2.6 million defending Manchin. SMP’s Republican counterpart, Senate Leadership Fund, has spent just shy of $100,000 opposing the Democratic senator.