WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ — A new poll shows Republican Carol Miller and Democrat Richard Ojeda locked in a tight race for the open 3rd Congressional District seat in southern West Virginia.
The poll from the Monmouth University Polling Institute released Tuesday shows Miller over Ojeda 48 percent to 45 percent.
Ojeda had a six to nine-point lead in a Monmouth poll released in June, Monmouth Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray said Tuesday on MetroNews “Talkline.”
“Republicans have been coming back to the flock since Labor Day,” he said.
But Murray added, in a district where President Donald Trump is very popular, Miller should be leading by more.
“The fact that this race is even close in a district that Donald Trump won by 50 points and continues to be very popular says a lot about the individual level of appeal of Ojeda,” Murray said.
According to the poll, Trump receives a nearly 2-to-1 positive rating from WV-03 voters – 63% approve and 35% disapprove.
Murray said Miller has to show Trump supporters she can deliver in Washington.
“That you’re going go down to Washington–kick some things around–upset the establishment, upset those politicians that have been playing games,” he said.
Ojeda’s share of the vote hasn’t changed much since the summer poll, Murray said.
“The problem for Ojeda is that there just aren’t that many Trump opponents in this district to give him the kind of edge that he would have if this was a competitive suburban district elsewhere in the country,” Miller said. “The Democrat is hanging on in this race largely due to his personal connection with voters there.”
The poll shows Miller has more support on traditional conservative issues like guns and abortion where Ojeda wins on economic issues. Nearly half of those polled, 48 percent, said Ojeda understands their day-to-day issues. Forty percent said Miller did but 42 percent said she did not.
The poll shows voter intensity in the Third District isn’t as high as in other congressional districts in the country, according to Murray.
“It’s actually a lack of enthusiasm that’s making this race competitive. It’s kind of the sense that ‘nobody listens to us.’ Both candidates have to go out there and convince their constituents out there that they will make a difference,” he said.
The poll also looked at the race for U.S. Senate between Senator Joe Manchin and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. The poll shows Manchin up by 20 points, 56 percent to 36 percent, among Third District voters.
“It suggests that if he (Manchin) has a 20-point lead in the 3rd District he’s winning the state fairly handily,” Murray said.
The Monmouth Poll spoke by phone with 350 likely voters in the 3rd District Oct. 10-14. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 5.2 percent.