Cook Political Report: WV Remains Solid Red In Key Races

The Democratic National Convention is underway. And for the first time, the event is being conducted virtually because of the pandemic.

The modern day conventions are no longer about delegate fights over the party’s presidential nomination.  Those battles have been replaced by state primaries.  Now the parties use the conventions to try to generate enthusiasm for the coming General Election.

In West Virginia, Democrats could use a boost.

Here is how the respected Cook Political Report rates key races in the state.

Cook has the race for Governor as “Solid R,” meaning Jim Justice is a heavy favorite to win re-election.  However, the Justice campaign must keep an eye on the rearview mirror. Democratic challenger Ben Salango is running an aggressive campaign.   Morning Consult suggests Justice is vulnerable, with a disapproval rating of 44 percent and an approval rating of 43 percent (13 percent do not know).

Libertarian Erika Kolenich and Mountain Party candidate Daniel Lutz are also on the ballot for Governor.

Incumbent Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito also enjoys a “Solid R” rating from the Cook Political Report.  Morning Consult has her in good shape on the approval ratings—47 percent to 33 percent, with 21 percent undecided. Capito is being challenged by Democrat Paula Jean Swearengin and Libertarian David Moran.

Cook has all three West Virginia House races in the red category.

In the First District, incumbent Republican David McKinley gets a “Solid R” rating in his race against challenger Democrat Natalie Cline.

In the Second District, Republican incumbent Alex Mooney is being challenged by Democrat Cathy Kunkel.  The Cook Report rates the seat as “Solid” Republican.

The same goes in the Third District. Republican Carol Miller is trying to win her second term and is being challenged by Democrat Hillary Turner. Miller is also in the “Solid” category, according to Cook.

West Virginia Republican House members are also boosted by what Cook calls their Partisan Voter Index or PVI.  This measures how each district performs at the presidential level compared with the nation as a whole.

West Virginia’s average PVI rating in the three congressional districts is plus-19 on the Republican side based on the last two Presidential elections.  Republicans are also helped by Donald Trump’s current popularity here.  Cook has West Virginia as one of the “Solid Republican” states for Trump in November.

Notably, Charlie Cook, author of the Cook Political Report, says looking at the polling “this election looks horrific for Republican candidates.”  But there is an important caveat; Cook predicts down ballot Republicans will struggle in states that Trump either lost or won by single digits four years ago.

Trump won West Virginia 42 points in 2016.

There are still 77 days until Election Day.  However, in West Virginia voters can already apply for an absentee ballot and early voting begins at the end of October.  That is not much time for West Virginia Democrats to get the enthusiasm train rolling to try to change the tint of what is now a solid red state.


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