CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A well-known political report has shifted the expected match-up later this year between Third District Congressman Nick Rahall and Cabell County state Senator Evan Jenkins from “Toss-Up” to “Leans Republican.”
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball Managing Editor Kyle Kondik explained the move Thursday on MetroNews Talkline. Kondik said the reasons for the shift include the “news of the race” including a Jenkins poll that showed him 14 points ahead of Rahall and no real answer to that poll from Democrats.
“It’s possible that they’re also seeing not the greatest numbers for Rahall. Maybe not down a dozen points or so but maybe trailing or barely ahead,” Kondik said.
There’s also the recent report that Rahall was considering retirement and dropping out of the race, something Rahall’s office has denied. Kondik said the report nevertheless doesn’t play in Rahall’s favor.
“Those are the sorts of things that tell us he may not be feeling all that comfortable and all that confident about his race,” Kondik said.
He also said the make-up of the Third District and the overwhelming support voters gave to Mitt Romney in 2012 also makes things an uphill battle for Rahall despite winning election every two years since 1976.
Rahall has been focusing on other issues this week. News releases from his office have addressed the federal budget, the federal EPA and the King Coal Highway.
Rahall announced Wednesday he would be casting a “no” vote on the Republican budget in the U.S. House.
“The Ryan budget would menacingly meddle with Medicare, increasing seniors’ costs and cutting their benefits,” Rahall said in a statement. “That budget, being forced through the House by the Republican Leadership, would hurt our seniors – no way would I vote for that. I have never seen a group so obsessed with doing away with Medicare – they’re frothing at the mouth to get their hands on it.”
Kondik said it may be very difficult for Rahall to separate himself from Obama.
“The President is just so unpopular in that district and in West Virginia as a whole that these mid-terms elections are oftentimes just a backlash against the President and the President’s party,” Kondik said.