Historically, Democratic members of Congress from West Virginia have sashayed through elections.  Reelection for incumbents was assured the day they paid the filing fee.

That’s changing.

It became evident in 2010 when West Virginia’s 1st Congressional District flipped from Democrat to Republican. That was set in motion by the defeat of long-time Democratic Congressman Alan Mollohan in the Primary.

Now the senior member of the state’s Congressional delegation, 3rd District Representative Nick Rahall finds himself in a serious race.

The Southern West Virginia Democrat is being challenged by Evan Jenkins, a state Senator who switched from the Democrat to Republican Party to enter the race.

The Jenkins campaign is touting a survey by Harper Polling showing the race is a virtual toss-up, with Rahall leading 46 percent to 42 percent.  Granted, it’s Jenkins’ poll, which means observers will question its credibility and the Rahall campaign can publicly dismiss it.

However, privately Rahall must be concerned about some of the findings.

Forty-four percent of those questioned have an unfavorable opinion of Rahall. That’s a dangerously high number. Even if it’s inflated, there is a tide that washes against the Congressman’s long-standing beachhead.

For example, the poll shows 43 percent of likely voters in the 3rd list energy and coal, the economy or jobs as their main issue. Some of that voter anxiety can be linked to the uncertainty in the coal industry created, in part, by the regulatory assault from President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency.

True, Rahall has been openly critical of the EPA, but it’s difficult for the Congressman to completely distance himself from the President on this issue.

The respected Cook Political Report has moved the 3rd District race from “leans Democrat” to “toss-up.”  Says Cook, “Rahall won’t have President Obama to contend with on the ballot next year, but the Administration’s decision to move forward with new energy regulations ensure the prevalence of the EPA in this race.”

(Note: Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball still has the race leaning Rahall’s way, while Stuart Rothenberg has it “Democrat favored.” )

Rahall also takes a hit from the current dysfunction in Washington.  Most voters blame the Republicans for the recent government shutdown and the budget mess, but Democrats did not escape unscathed.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 61 percent of Americans blame Congressional Democrats (74 percent blame Congressional Republicans).

Jenkins also has been able to raise money.  Campaign finance reports just filed show he collected $207,000 in the third quarter and has $200,000 on hand.  He outraised Rahall during the quarter by $54,000, but Rahall still has more money on hand–$474,000.

As the Cook Report concluded, “Rahall has persisted here since 1976 and starts off with a small lead, but this looks like it is shaping up to be the race of his career.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Nick Joe Manchin Rahall

    Bet you that if Nick Joe wins by a squeaker both he and his soulmate Manchin won't run again.

    • DonaldH

      If the people of his district votes him in even "by a squeaker" then there will me no need to run again... It'll all be over... And if I didn't have 3 kids-- 2 in school and one about to start-- then I wouldn't care how the dems screw the country up for the next generation-- I'd just quietly let the ignorant electorate get what they deserve....

  • Boone

    Rahall gets beat by a 2-1 margin. Local politicians in Boone, Logan, and Mingo are even saying he needs to go. Raleigh County has been trying to vote him out in the last few elections.

  • JTC

    Let's hope Jenkins brings in Rafael Cruz to help him, WV is still living in the 2010 elections and hopefully will wake up and read the writing on the wall about what these nut jobs are up to. What we really need is a viable candidate against McKantly!

  • Fed Up

    Term limits for all branches of government would solve most of our problems..

  • steve

    Surley the people of WV aren't crazy enough to continue to vote democratic with the way our State and Country are heading--and don't blame the Republicans, tea party , after party or wild party---We are under a Democratic President and he is not getting it done--simple as that.......................

    • mntnman

      Yeah, cause under the US Constitution,only the president has any power. (Sarcasm intended.)

  • welfareworker

    i believe Rahll is much too smart to take the challenge from Jenkins as lightly as Mollohan took the challenge from Oliverio and McKinley. Regardless most WVians are turning redder by the minute to their own detriment. I f Rahall wins it will be a close one.

  • mntnman

    The election is the only poll that counts. It will be interesting to see where it ends up. I can't say that either way it goes will bode well for WV.

  • Don't_Elect_A_Moron_To_The_Senate

    Well, if this poll shows Rahall going into the burn mode, then it means super moron "secretary of state" Natalie Tennant is in even worse shape.

  • thornton

    I can't see that either person as a winner will mean much to other than the political wonks.....do that math.

    • The bookman

      Well that is the case of every house seat...the significance would certainly be in the flip from D to R after it being held for 38 years by Rahall...after the last couple weeks the repubs will take any victory they can get!

  • Buddy Boy

    Nikki Joe has got to go just to send a message to any american thinking democrats left. And for the progs out there what I mean by american thinking is people not for any party just for being anti solialism and communism. It is war right now and the environmentalists have to be ignored until we create enough energy and money to reduce the deficit. We have plenty of time to clean up the mess later. I am for green as much as anyone but not until it makes sense meaning when we can afford it. We can;'t right now and we have wasted way too much money on it. Let drill, mine and pipeline with the regulations we had pre Obumma and pay our bills then when we have secured a future for our children we can begin a common sense push for green energy. Anyone who advocates any other path right now is simply either lacking common sense or treasoness.

    • Shadow

      +1

    • Helen

      Just the way you spell Obama tells me you ain't much of a thinker yourself, Buddie Boy.

  • wvman75

    Rahall is another liberal Obamabot. Time to go.

  • Wirerowe

    Td you may be right. But I think President Obama, EPa and Obamacre are much more important issues than the debt ceiling .I understand that the President is not on the ballot. But his policies and unpopularity will be part of campaigns either subtly or with a hammer. If there are a couple of more debt ceiling/ shutdown blow ups before the election then that could move more to the front of the voter's mind,

  • TD

    Which way will the political winds blow in WV after the shutdown/debt ceiling debacle? Will WV continue it's slide towards becoming a redder state? Have Republicans exposed themselves as extreme ideologues not really interested in governing or compromise to do what's best for the country? I think the race between Capito and Tennant could help Rahall and perhaps help reverse the slide all together. If Tennant's campaign can point out that Capito sat silent throughout the whole mess marching in line with the TEA Party group and Rahall can define his opponent as one of the same mindset, then the winds could reverse and democrats could gain in WV.

    However, in the reddest parts of the country Republicans gained support while losing from everywhere else. The question for both Rahall and Tennant, how red is WV?

    • Wowbagger

      TD,

      I realize that it's hard for you Progressives to understand, but finally after 81 years West Virginia is following the rest of the of the conservative Jacksonian Democrat south, turning a bright scarlet!

      You see they are finally realizing that a vote for Nick Joe Rahal is a vote for botox queen and ultra Progressive Nancy Pelosi and a vote for Tennant or Joe Manchin, for that matter, is a vote for Progressive, punch drunk former boxer Harry Reid.

    • john

      Democrats in West Virginia are with the party mainly because of coal and the unions. On social policies West Virginia is a conservative state. Obama's policies from day one has been a war on everything that has made West Virgina a democratic state, it's only natural that the people are fed up with members of congress who support Obama and his war on coal.

      • TD

        I'd like to see how "conservative" WV is with the positions of Republican vs. Democrat in regards to Medicare, Social Security, Wall Street Reform, minimum wage, tax policy, etc... On almost every issue I think the majority of WV's would side with the Dems. but that's not what they hear or vote on mainly because of media bias.

        • john

          Democrats policy on medicare and social security, that's simple, do nothing to save the programs just kick the can down the road. People realize that something has to be done now or these programs will end. I agree with you that that the people taking advantage of the system will continue to support the democrats, even though few of them vote.

        • GregG

          The republican view on issues such as Medicare, Social Security, Wall Street Reform, minimum wage, tax policy, etc...is never brought to light. They use guns, gays, god and abortion to hide their true objective. But as I have said, I have grown tired of both parties because in the end big business controls both of them.

        • DonaldH

          TD you are either deliberately misinforming or you are ineptly misinformed-- The real power- brokers of wall street are Progressively liberal blues-- Jon Corzine, Bloomberg, Jeff Immeltt, Warren Buffet, George Soros, Haim Saban and Penny Pritzer just to name a few that actually control the ebbs and flows of Wall Street

  • blugldmn

    Rahall had the dead vote though... Tuff to overcome..

  • CaptainQ

    Hoppy, this poll result is not surprising. Lately, Nicky Jo has shown by his actions that he is much closer aligned with the President than he claimed to be during his 2012 reelection campaign. In WV, the name of Obama is still political kryptonite, so this is why Rahall's bid to return to Congress in 2014 is in jeopardy. Jay Rockefeller, to his credit, saw the handwriting on the wall and wisely bowed out of his Senate race before suffering a very embarrassing defeat. Jay was undeniably close to Obama and even all of his millions could not change that public view of him. Rahall doesn't have access to a Rockefeller sized 'war chest' of campaign funds, so this makes his reelection bid much more challenging.

    Bottom line, even though nationally the GOP's image has taken a beating due to the government shutdown and even though Jenkins is a 'turncoat' Republican, Nicky Jo is in for a real race this time around. The Obama Factor remains a strong deterant for any national Democratic candidate in WV, and unlike 2012, there's no way Rahall can deny his ties to the President. If the DNC is serious about holding the WV 3rd District, they need to convince Nick Jo to 'retire' so a non-Obamaian candidate can be found to run against Jenkins. Of course, with his ego, Rahall believes he can still win, so there's little chance he'll bow out.

    It will be interesting to see this 'battle' play out next year.