7:00am: West Virginia Outdoors with Chris Lawrence

Voters Stick With Their Party In Federal Races

This will be the second presidential election in West Virginia where straight-ticket voting is not permitted.

The West Virginia Legislature disallowed the option of checking one box to vote party-line down the ballot prior to the 2016 General Election. The move discontinued what had been a popular practice in the state.

In the 2014 election, about one-fourth of all votes came from straight-ticket ballots. Fifty-three percent of them were Republican and 42 percent went for Democrats.

Not that many years ago, straight-ticket voting was a boon for the dominant Democratic Party. For example, in the 2006 General Election, two-thirds of the straight-ticket voters were Democrats.

Voters can still vote for candidates from only one party, but they must check each race individually.

Eliminating straight-ticket voting reduced some of the benefit to down-ballot candidates when there was a strong candidate at the top of the ticket.

However, a survey by Pew Research finds that voters are not likely to split their ticket in federal races.

“With control of the Senate at stake on November 4, just four percent of registered voters in states with a Senate contest say they will support Donald Trump or Joe Biden and a Senate candidate of the opposing party,” Pew found.

That is good news for Senator Shelley Moore Capito. The Republican U.S. Senator’s race for re-election is the second race voters come to on the ballot. Donald Trump is expected to carry West Virginia easily and Capito is a lock for re-election, but that is still a significant one-two punch at the top of the ticket for the GOP.

Pew Research also found that “about eight-in-ten voters (78 percent) say they will vote (or have already voted) for either Biden and the Democratic House of Representatives candidate or Trump and the Republican candidate in their congressional district.”

That bodes well for the three incumbent Republican House of Representatives candidates who are running for re-election—David McKinley in the 1st, Alex Mooney in the 2nd and Carol Miller in the 3rd.

The old check-the-one-box straight-ticket voting continues to decline. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that only six states allow or offer straight-ticket voting. They are Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

However, as the Pew Research indicates, with an increasingly polarized electorate, most voters are still inclined to stay with the same party in federal races. They just must make a few more marks to do it.

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