So, who is ahead in the West Virginia governor’s race?
The answer depends on who you talk with, or perhaps more importantly who the pollsters talk with.
The Jim Justice campaign is touting the results of its most recent poll showing the Democratic nominee with a ten point lead over Republican Bill Cole. The survey by Global Strategy Group has Justice at 44, Cole at 34, Mountain Party candidate Charlotte Pritt at 8 percent and Libertarian David Moran at two, with the remaining 12 percent undecided.
The poll of likely voters was conducted Oct. 11-13 and has a four-point margin of error.
Global Strategy pollster Jefrey Pollock believes his candidate is headed in the right direction. “Jim Justice is winning those conservative Democrats by an overwhelming margin. He’s winning them 70-30,” Pollock said on Talkline Monday. “Hillary Clinton is losing those conservative Democrats 18 (percent) to 80 (percent), and I’m not making that up.”
Pollock’s point is that Justice is not suffering serious drag associated with Clinton.
The Cole camp believes the race is a dead heat. His campaign has released polling from NMB Research showing Cole and Justice each at 39 percent, with five percent for Pritt, 2 percent for Moran, 1 percent for Constitution Party candidate Phil Hudok and 12 percent undecided.
On the generic ballot question, 43 percent said if the election were held today they would vote for a Republican for governor, 42 percent said a Democrat, 13 percent were undecided and 2 percent did not answer.
State Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas believes the numbers show the race is starting to break their way. “It’s now moving with momentum as more folks are getting to know Bill Cole and more folks are tuning into the election.”
National observers are split on the race. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report has moved the West Virginia gubernatorial race from “Toss-Up” to “Tilt Democratic.” It notes that “Republicans are hoping that a huge Donald Trump victory will pull (Cole) across the finish line… but Democrats think Justice, a wealthy political outsider, is closer to the Trump profile than Cole.”
Meanwhile, Sabato’s Crystal Ball still has the governor’s race in the “Toss-Up” category. Sabato moved the race from “Leans Republican” to “Toss-Up” early last month.
The MetroNews West Virginia Poll on the governor’s race will be out later this week.
Any poll is just a snapshot in time and every poll has some margin of error. The the most important poll of all is three weeks from today.