Republicans Within Margin Of Error In West Virginia Senate Race

Just two months ago, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin seemed poised to walk away with a sure victory in his effort to succeed Robert Byrd in the Senate.

Now, Manchin has a race on his hands and faces the real possibility of losing to a real estate magnate who’s never won a statewide office:

PPP’s first look at the West Virginia Senate contest finds a very tight race with John Raese up 46-43 on Joe Manchin, a result within the poll’s margin of error.

The contest provides a fascinating choice for voters in the state who love their Democratic Governor but hate the party’s ranks in Washington DC that he would be joining.

Manchin is the second most popular Governor PPP has polled on all year, behind only Bobby Jindal, with a 59/32 approval spread. He breaks almost even with Republicans as 42% of them approve of the job he’s doing with just 44% disapproving. In a highly polarized political climate the list of politicians with that kind of crossover popularity is very short.

At the same time West Virginians couldn’t be much more down on national Democrats. Barack Obama’s approval rating in the state is just 30% with 64% of voters disapproving of him. Even within his own party barely half of voters, at 51%, like the job he’s doing. Support from Republicans (91% disapproval) and independents (73% disapproval) is pretty much nonexistent.

Given the President’s high degree of unpopularity it’s no surprise that 54% of voters in the state want Republicans to control the next Congress with just 37% wanting the Democrats to stay in charge. GOP voters (91-3) and independents (66-21) are pretty universal in their desire for a Republican majority and even 25% of Democrats say they’d like to see a change.

If  Manchin is going to win this race, he is going to have to find a way to differentiate himself from the national Democratic leadership even more so than he already has. Even before this poll came out, it was already clear that a Senator Joe Manchin would hardly be a reliable lock-step Democratic vote on anything other than leadership issues. West Virginia voters seemed happy with that at first, and willing to send their very popular Governor on to Washington. If this is the wave election that many are coming to think it is, though, that may not be enough.

Come November 2nd, a Republican victory in the Mountaineer State would be a very early sign that it’s going to be a very bad night for Democrats.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    I wouldn’t bet the farm on Manchin losing if I were you Doug.

  2. Tano says:

    Heh. Even Rasmussen has Manchin ahead by 7, over the same time span as this poll.

  3. Joe,

    And I wouldn’t bet the farm on him winning either. Win or lose, this race is much closer than anyone anticipated.