Manchin up 9 points over GOP challenger in W.Va. Senate race

Greg Nash

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is up 9 points on his GOP rival, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, in a poll out Wednesday.

The Monmouth University survey also shows a third-party bid by failed GOP candidate Don Blankenship cutting slightly into Morrisey’s support, which heightens the intrigue about whether he will be able to make the November ballot.

Monmouth’s polling uses a variety of different likely voter models to take the temperature of the race.

In the standard midterm model, Manchin leads by a margin of 49 percent to Morrisey’s 40 percent, with Blankenship capturing 5 percent of the vote. If Blankenship is not on the ballot, Manchin’s lead shrinks slightly to 7 percent.

In a model anticipating a surge of Democratic voters opposed to President Trump, however, Manchin is up 11 points on Morrisey, with Blankenship still capturing the same 5 percent. Manchin’s lead under that circumstance shrinks to 9 points if Blankenship is not on the ballot.

The Monmouth polling found Manchin in a decent spot as far as his favorability — 44 percent of voters view him favorably compared to the 35 percent who view him unfavorably.

By contrast, Morrisey’s favorability numbers are under water. He’s viewed favorably by 25 percent of the state’s voters and unfavorably by 30 percent.

Republicans hope that West Virginia will be one of their best opportunities to flip a Democratic-held seat, considering Trump won the state in 2016 by an overwhelming margin.

Manchin has been far more willing to work with Trump than most other Democratic members of Congress, and recently told Politico that he wouldn’t rule out endorsing him in 2020.

Those comments drew criticism from Republicans who argued Manchin shouldn’t be praised for hypotheticals when he endorsed and campaigned for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Support for Trump will likely be an important factor in the race, with 66 percent of voters telling Monmouth they support what Trump is doing.

A plurality of voters believes that Manchin hasn’t been supportive enough of Trump, but half of the voters believe he understands the issues that common people face. By contrast, a plurality believes that Morrisey does not understand “the day to day concerns of people like you.”

The possible presence of Blankenship is somewhat of a wildcard in the race. Blankenship lost the GOP Senate primary as the party’s establishment worked to cut down his candidacy, concerned that an explosion at one of his mines, which killed 29 people, would cripple the GOP if he won. Blankenship served a year in prison on a mine safety charge related to that explosion, but has professed his innocence.

After losing, Blankenship refused to stop criticizing Morrisey and announced he would seek a spot on the ballot as a member of the Constitution Party.

It’s unclear whether he’s eligible for the ballot, thanks to a “sore loser” law in the state that appears to bar a candidate who lost one party’s primary from running in the general election under a different banner.

But Blankenship’s allies have argued that the text of the law is unclear and could allow for an opening.

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Manchin

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