WEST VIRGINIA – In the race for U.S. Senate, Manchin holds a 48% to 39% lead over Morrisey among all potential voters – that is voters who have participated in an election since 2010 or have newly registered to vote (a group that represents about 73% of all registered voters). Another 4% support Don Blankenship, who is seeking to run as the Constitution Party candidate after losing his bid for the GOP nomination. West Virginia has a “sore loser” law that may prevent him from appearing on the general election ballot. When Blankenship’s supporters are reallocated to their second choice, Manchin maintains a 49% to 42% lead.
The race looks very similar using two different likely voter models. A historical midterm model gives Manchin a 49% to 40% lead over Morrisey with Blankenship in the race, and a 50% to 43% lead without. Using a model that includes a turnout surge in areas where Democrats tend to perform more strongly gives a Manchin a 50% to 39% lead when including Blankenship and 51% to 42% lead without the Constitution Party candidate.
Manchin’s support is broad based, but he does especially well among voters age 65 and older (57% to 34% for Morrisey). In addition to holding an 84% – 7% advantage among self-identified Democrats, the incumbent has a 54% – 30% lead among independents. Manchin also nabs 17% of the Republican vote against 70% for Morrisey.
“West Virginia may be a deep red in presidential elections, but Joe Manchin has carved out a niche for himself, especially among older voters who see him as the type of Democrat they used to support for decades,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Manchin – an 8-year incumbent as well as a former governor – is doing well despite the popularity of Pres. Trump, who earns a 67% approve to 29% disapprove rating from voters in West Virginia. In fact, nearly half (49%) say they strongly approve of the job Trump is doing. A plurality (41%) of voters say that Manchin has not been supportive enough of Trump, compared to 32% who say the Democratic senator has offered the right amount of support and 12% who say he has been too supportive.
Furthermore, 66% say they support what Trump is doing on most issues and just 29% oppose. Nearly 6-in-10 (58%) say it is very important for them to cast a vote for Congress that shows how they feel about the president. Among those who say that Trump is a very important factor in their vote, Morrisey holds a nominal 48% to 46% lead over Manchin. But among the 4-in-10 voters who say that Trump is not a very important consideration in their vote, Manchin has a sizable 54% to 33% advantage.
“Manchin is ahead in this race largely because of voters who are focused on how they feel about the person currently occupying the senate seat rather than the occupant of the Oval Office,” said Murray.
Half (50%) of West Virginia’s voters say Manchin understands the day to day concerns of people like them compared to 43% who say he does not. Only 31% feel that Morrisey – the state’s Attorney General who also once ran for Congress in New Jersey – understands their concerns while 43% say he does not.
More West Virginia voters (44%) have a favorable opinion of Manchin than have an unfavorable one (35%), while 22% express no opinion. Morrisey is not as well known or well liked, having a 25% favorable and 30% unfavorable rating, with 45% expressing no opinion. For the record, Blankenship – who served jail time for safety violations that led to the death of 29 coal miners – is largely unpopular, earning a 11% favorable to 57% unfavorable rating from voters statewide with 32% offering no opinion.
The contest for the open seat in West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District is tight, with Democrat Ojeda at 43% and Republican Miller at 41%. Currently, likely voter models give the edge to Ojeda with a 47% to 41% lead in a historical midterm turnout scenario and a 48% to 39% lead using a Democratic surge model.
More WV-03 voters (40%) say Ojeda understands the day to day concerns of people like them than say he does not (23%). By comparison, 33% feel that Miller understands their concerns as opposed to 22% who say she does not. More WV-03 voters (33%) have a favorable opinion of Ojeda than an unfavorable one (14%), but half (53%) express no opinion. Miller gets a 27% favorable and 10% unfavorable rating, with 63% expressing no opinion.
“Unlike other hotly contested House races in the country where dislike of the president is giving Democrats a boost, this West Virginia district seems to be competitive because the Democratic candidate has his own populist persona. But neither candidate is particularly well know yet, so this dynamic could change” said Murray. Of note, interviews for the poll were nearly complete before an interview was published this week in which Ojeda said that he voted for Trump in 2016.
Pres. Trump earns a 66% approve – including 49% who strongly approve – to 30% disapprove job rating from voters in WV-03. Similarly, 65% say they support what Trump is doing on most issues and just 29% oppose. Nearly 6-in-10 (59%) say it is very important for them to cast a vote for Congress that shows how they feel about the president. Among those who say that Trump is a very important factor in their vote, Miller holds a small 44% to 40% lead over Ojeda. But among the 4-in-10 voters who say that Trump is not very important to their vote, Ojeda has a sizable 47% to 35% advantage.
Other WV House races
Republican incumbents hold sizable leads in the state’s other two congressional districts. In WV-01, David McKinley has a 68% to 22% lead over Democratic challenger Kendra Fershee among all potential voters and a 72% to 24% lead among likely voters in both models. In WV-02, Alex Mooney has a 51% to 33% lead over Democratic challenger Talley Sergent among all potential voters and a 52% to 38% lead among likely voters in both models. While the sample sizes for these two electorates are small (n=87 for WV-01 and n=138 for WV-02), the GOP candidates’ leads are outside the margin of error for the gap in all cases (maximum +/-14.4% for WV-01 and +/-13.0% for WV-02).
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 14 to 19, 2018 with 653 West Virginia voters, which includes a sample of 428 voters in West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District – the sample was weighted to ensure that the statewide results reflect the appropriate share of voters in each congressional district. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.
The statewide results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 4.3 percentage points for the likely voter models. The error of the gap between the two candidates’ vote share (i.e. the margin of the “lead”) is +/- 5.4 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 6.0 percentage points for the likely voter models.
The WV-03 results have a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 5.3 percentage points for the likely voter models. The error of the gap between the two candidates’ vote share (i.e. the margin of the “lead”) is +/- 6.6 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 7.4 percentage points for the likely voter models.