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Poll: West Virginia voters support going ahead with Amy Coney Barrett confirmation

Most likely voters in West Virginia believe Amy Coney Barrett should be confirmed to the Supreme Court, despite her consideration so close to the General Election, according to the latest MetroNews West Virginia Poll.

The poll asked participants to make a choice between two statements.

Forty-nine percent agreed, “Regardless of who wins the presidential election in November, President Trump should pick the next justice to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s vacancy since he is the current President.”

The other 41 percent said, “The winner of the presidential election in November should pick the next justice to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s vacancy since the election is fewer than a month away.”

The remainder were undecided.

Barrett’s nomination has been under consideration this week in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. After two days of testimony by Barrett, the committee today will hear from other witnesses and debate her nomination. Much of the Senate Judiciary debate this morning focused on the timetable.

Committee rules give Democrats the option to request the vote be delayed a week. So the committee’s vote to approve Barrett’s nomination on Oct. 22. A vote on confirmation by the full Senate is expected the following week, as early as Oct. 26.

That puts confirmation right on the verge of the Nov. 3 election.

Early voting is already underway in many states. In West Virginia, early voting starts Oct. 21.

The West Virginia Poll showed that how respondents viewed the question depended largely on their party affiliation or political outlook, said Rex Repass, president of Research America Inc., which conducts the polling.

Rex Repass

“Those most likely to align with the president are his base,” Repass said.

So, 84 percent of those who identify as conservatives said the president should get his nominee, 81 percent of Republicans surveyed agreed, 54 percent of those aged 55 and over held that view, and 51 percent of southern West Virginians supported moving forward with the nomination now.

On the other side, 79 percent of people who identify as liberals and 70 percent of Democrats said the winner of the presidential election should make the pick. Fifty percent of those aged 18 to 34 supported holding off until after the election.

The MetroNews West Virginia Poll was conducted between Oct. 1-6 among a sample of 450 West Virginia registered voters who are likely to vote in the upcoming Nov. 3 General Election. The overall confidence interval for the survey is +/- 4.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Barrett currently serves as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. President Trump nominated Barrett to the Seventh Circuit on May 8, 2017, and the Senate confirmed her on October 31, 2017.

She is being considered for the Supreme Court seat that opened after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a progressive icon, on Sept. 18.

A new, national Morning Consult poll showed that 48 percent of registered voters say the Senate should vote to confirm Barrett, while 31 percent of voters said the Senate should vote down Barrett’s nomination

Nationally, Democratic politicians have generally said the nomination comes too close to the election, while Republican elected officials have supported moving ahead.

Much of the context stems from the spring 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland to fill a seat after Justice Antonin Scalia died.

With the presidential election to be decided in a few months that year, the Republican-led Senate did not have any hearings to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee.

West Virginia’s senators have been split on the confirmation process.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin

Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has said he will not vote to confirm Judge Coney Barrett or any Supreme Court nominee before Election Day on Nov. 3. Manchin, though, has met with Barrett.

With the Garland nomination in 2016, Manchin had said the nominee should get a hearing.

Speaking today on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” said he personally believes Barrett is qualified for the role even though he disagrees with the timeline.

“There’s nothing that would disqualify Judge Barrett,” said Manchin, who voted for her appointment to the circuit court of appeals.

But he said her appointment could swing the upcoming consideration of a challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Manchin decried the deterioration of bipartisan trust in Washington, D.C.

Manchin said it’s unheard of for a Supreme Court nominee to be considered this close to the election.

“It’s wrong now for us to be moving forward and setting a precedent,” he said.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has said she “will consider her based on her merits as West Virginians would expect me to do.”

On March 16, 2016, Capito said the election cycle should be concluded before Garland was considered for the Supreme Court.

“Before a Supreme Court justice is confirmed to a lifetime position on the bench, West Virginians and the American people should have the ability to weigh in at the ballot box this November. My position does not change with the naming of a nominee today,” Capito said in 2016.

At that point, Capito concluded, “With just a few months until the election, West Virginians should have an opportunity to express their views and elect a new president who will select the Supreme Court justice.”

In Barrett’s case, Capito has indicated support.

“She has demonstrated a strong commitment to the rule of law and to carefully considering the text and history of the Constitution,” Capito stated shortly after the nomination was announced.

WV Poll 10 15 Release (Text)


The coronavirus pandemic has brought on a economic turmoil, but likely West Virginia voters express some optimism that the economy will rebound next year.

Thirty-five percent said the economy will be somewhat better next year with 19 percent saying it will be much better.

“There’s optimism,” Repass said. “West Virginians and Americans tend to be optimistic about life.”

With less optimism, 23 percent predicted the economy will be about the same and 6 percent said much worse.

Generally, Republicans were much more optimistic about the economy than independents or Democrats.

Of Democrats, 37 percent said they believe the nation’s economy will get much better or somewhat better. Of Republicans, it was 77 percent. Among independents it was 39 percent.

A report released Wednesday by the WVU Bureau of Business & Economic Research suggests most sectors of state’s economy could be in for a quick recovery after the current pandemic is over.

John Deskins

Bureau Director John Deskins said right now it appears the state will benefit from a “V-shaped” recovery.

“We say that because it was a shutdown because of a public health crisis and we keep looking for signs of underlying permanent lasting economic damage and quite frankly we don’t see a whole lot of that quite yet,” Deskins said during a Wednesday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Repass said it makes sense to believe the economy will improve.

“We’re in the midst of a pandemic,” Repass said. “We’ve got businesses shut down for at least two months or in some cases three or longer, so the economy doesn’t really have any way to go but up.”

Social injustice

The other issue that has dominated the past few months is racial equity in America, taking the shape of protests and marches — and sometimes riots.

The view of the protests has been polarizing.

West Virginia likely voters were asked, “Overall, do you think the recent protests, marches and demonstrations will help, hurt or make no difference to public support for racial justice and equality?”

Fifty-one percent said those actions will hurt. Twenty-eight percent said they will help, and 21 percent said they will make no difference.

“If we look at that demographically, it aligns pretty much with party affiliation and political orientation,” Repass said.

Seventy-six percent of Republicans said they believe the actions would hurt public support for racial justice.

Justice 27 percent of Democrats believe that would hurt; 51 percent of Democrats said it would help.

Independents were more aligned with Republicans on this question, but still under half – about 46 percent.

During a debate for the governor’s race in West Virginia earlier this week, candidates were asked, Do you believe systemic racism causes barriers in West Virginia?

Governor Justice

Governor Jim Justice, a Republican, responded, “I believe we’re blessed in West Virginia to have better relations with other races or whatever it may be than we do have throughout our country.”

The incumbent said he is proud of his work with the African-American community. “Do Black lives matter? Of course Black lives matter,” Justice said.

But Justice then pointed toward ongoing friction in some American cities. “In West Virginia, we don’t need to be Portland. We don’t need to be Baltimore or wherever it may be,” he said.

Ben Salango (File)

His challenger, Democrat Ben Salango, pointed toward Justice’s controversial use of the word “thugs” early this year to describe a high school girls basketball team with a large minority student population. Justice is a high school basketball coach and was reacting to a bench-clearing incident in a heated game.

Salango said, “We need a governor who is going to bring people together.”

Methodology Statement                               

Results of this edition of MetroNews West Virginia Poll are based on interviews conducted between Oct. 1-6, 2020 with a sample of 450 West Virginia registered voters who are likely to vote in the upcoming November 3rd national general election, including registered Democrats, Republicans, Libertarian, Mountain Party, and unaffiliated or independent voters. Data collection was completed online and by telephone with purchased sample of registered voters who are likely to vote in general elections.

Registered likely voters in all 55 West Virginia counties were sampled and screened for near certainty that they plan to vote.  After completion of data collection, the data was modeled to likely voters, actual voter registration in the state, and expected turnout.

When using sample of registered voters and hybrid data collection (online and telephone) it is not appropriate to apply a probability-based margin of error to interviews completed. However, applying statistical tests of significance to each question asked at the 95 percent confidence interval yields an overall statistical error of +/- 4.6 percentage points based on the 450 interviews. The 95 percent confidence interval varies by question.

The purpose of the West Virginia Poll is to provide a snapshot of opinion and timely voter views in the Mountain State. The media sponsor of the West Virginia Poll is MetroNews Radio Network.

Rex Repass is director of the West Virginia Poll and president of Research America Inc. Repass is responsible for questionnaire design, the respondent screening and selection process, data tabulation, statistical analysis, and reporting of results.

The MetroNews West Virginia Poll is a non-partisan survey of public opinion conducted by Repass and Research America Inc. The West Virginia Poll has been directed by Repass and conducted periodically since January 21, 1980. The name The West Virginia Poll is a trademark owned by Research America Inc; all rights reserved.

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