Sabato’s Crystal Ball, part of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, changed its ratings of the two races, which is good news for U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and state Sen. Richard Ojeda.
The Senate race moved from “toss up” to “leans Democratic.”
The House race moved from “leans Republican” to “toss up.”
Manchin is running against Republican candidate and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for his second full term in the Senate.
Ojeda, D-Logan, who caught the attention of national news organizations prior to and following the statewide education work stoppage, is facing off against Delegate Carol Miller, R-Cabell. The seat is open because of U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins’ failed bid for U.S. Senate.
Kyle Kondik, the managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball, said the Senate race went from “leans Democratic” to “toss-up” in May following the primary election.
“We’ve just seen a lot of polling where Manchin has usually been leading by high single digits or maybe low double digits,” he said. “Also, there was an interesting development recently where one of the big Republican outside groups actually canceled some ad spending in West Virginia, which I don’t know exactly what happened there, but sometimes actions speak louder than words in the political world.”
One Nation, an organization tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced last week it was canceling a $750,000 campaign against Manchin regarding immigration.
As for Ojeda, Kondik said national trends show a relationship between House races and a district’s approval of President Donald Trump. This bearing is not the case in the 3rd Congressional District.
“In the 2016 presidential race, Evan Jenkins got elected quite comfortably. The district voted for Donald Trump by almost 50 points,” he said. “And yet, Jim Justice — who then was a Democrat and now is a Republican — running for governor, won the district by 17 points.”
Kondik said the last time there was an open House race in West Virginia, Alex Mooney won in the 2nd Congressional District contest over Democrat Nick Casey by three points.
“I’m wondering if this race is going to be similar to that in that even though Democrats have really been on a decline in West Virginia, there is some residual strength there,” he said. “With the right candidate, they could potentially win that House seat.”
Sabato’s Crystal Ball said Tuesday Democrats are the “soft favorites” to win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in this year’s election. The Republican Party, at this point, is expected to retain control of the Senate.