West Virginia Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey continues to trail Democratic incumbent Senator Joe Manchin in the polls. Most of the surveys have Manchin up anywhere from eight to 12 points, and MetroNews will release its own poll Friday.
Even though Morrisey is behind, he has a distinct advantage that Manchin does not—President Donald Trump’s support. Trump has already campaigned once for Morrisey in West Virginia since the primary and promises to return.
Normally, there are no presidential coattails in off-year elections, since the president is not on the ballot, but that paradigm may have shifted with Trump in states where he is popular. Consider what happened in the Florida Primary Election this week.
Congressman Ron DeSantis defeated Adam Putnam by 20 points (57% to 37%) to win the Republican nomination for Governor. Putnam was a well-known political figure who worked his way up the ranks. He tapped into a statewide network and knocked on doors.
DeStantis had no ground game or establishment backing, but he had two things Putnam did not have—President Trump’s endorsement and Fox News.
DeStantis was an early supporter of Trump, and as a member of the House Oversight Committee, he became a leading defender of the President and critic of the investigations. As such, he became a popular guest on Fox News, according to Politico.
Over the last nine months “DeSantis made 121 appearances on Fox and Fox Business—his campaign estimates it would have cost his campaign $9.3 million to purchase all that airtime,” Politico reported. Additionally, DeSantis campaign polling found that “52 percent of the GOP primary voters saw themselves as supporters of the President first, while only 37 percent saw themselves as Republicans first.
Of course there are significant differences between West Virginia and Florida. First, that was a primary and not the general. Second, Morrisey does not have the same access to Fox News as DeSantis. However, DeSantis’ overwhelming victory does show the benefit of being on the Trump team.
West Virginia is a strong Trump state. Most polls show at least 60 percent of likely voters approve of him. Don Blankenship was making a strong run for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate until Trump tweeted his co-endorsement of Morrisey and Evan Jenkins, adding that Blankenship “can’t win the General Election.” Blankenship finished a distant third.
It is possible that Trump’s support of Morrisey is already baked in to the poll numbers. If so, Morrisey will have trouble catching Manchin. However, there are still a number of undecided voters. MetroNews will release poll numbers tomorrow on the size of that block.
It is reasonable to assume that most of those are Trump voters because of his popularity here. If that is the case, and if Trump is as supportive of Morrisey as he was of DeSantis, then Morrisey will get a “Trump Bump” even without Fox News.