CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin has a 7-point lead over state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the race for U.S. Senate in latest polling from Public Policy Polling.
Manchin is ahead 49-42, which is close to the margin of most other polls that have come out in the last several weeks.
“There have been three internal Democratic polls that have found Manchin up somewhere in that 7 to 10 percent range and then there have been a couple of independent polls as well,” PPP Director Tom Jensen said Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline.” “There seems pretty broad agreement in the polls, at least at this point, that Manchin is starting out with a decent advantage.”
PPP, which is considered a Democratic pollster, also measured favorability of Manchin and Morrisey and both finished on the non-favorable side. Manchin at 39 percent favorable to 48 percent unfavorable while Morrisey was at 30 percent favorable to 44 percent unfavorable.
“Even though neither of these guys is particularly beloved, Morrisey has more people who should be in his camp willing to defect than Manchin does,” Jensen said.
The poll shows the greater defection for Morrisey would come if former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship ends up on the ballot. According to PPP, Blankenship would get 11 percent of the vote, with most coming from what would be Morrisey voters.
President Donald Trump remains very popular in West Virginia with a 64 percent approval rating, according to PPP. That’s also a playing a role in the Manchin-Morrisey match-up, Jensen said.
“Right now the reason that Manchin’s ahead, despite Trump’s approval rating, is that Manchin is winning 25 percent of Trump voters,” Jensen said. “Certainly he can’t go a whole lot lower and still come out ahead in this election.”
The Trump factor is a big key to the race, Jensen said.
“I don’t know if Donald Trump can win this race for Patrick Morrisey or not but if there’s anywhere where Donald Trump can make a difference in the Senate race this year it’s West Virginia,” Jensen said.
The poll also asked respondents about Gov. Jim Justice.
“Gov. Justice is not popular. Only 27 percent of voters see him favorably, 47 percent unfavorably,” Jensen said. “He has a really interesting situation where Democrats and Republicans both dislike him.”
A further breakdown shows only 24 percent of Democrats polled gave Justice a favorable rating while 32 percent of Republicans did so. Jensen said that sometimes happens when someone switches parties like Justice did last year.
“The party you left really hates you and the party that you join is suspicious of you,” Jensen said.