WV Senate race shows GOP within 6

posted at 2:30 pm on August 30, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

When this seat opened up with the death of longtime incumbent Robert Byrd, everyone figured that Governor Joe Manchin would run for the Democratic nomination to fill the rest of Byrd’s term.  No one was sure whether Manchin would get a serious Republican challenger, though, because conventional wisdom held that Manchin would wallop any Republican who dared.  Shelley Moore Capito declined to run, and instead a West Virginia businessman decided to become the sacrificial lamb to Manchin’s preordained victory.

Except that a funny thing happened on the way to the landslide — West Virginia voters have started to question whether they want to send a Democrat to Washington again.  According to the latest Rasmussen poll, Manchin doesn’t get to 50% among likely Mountaineer voters, and John Raese looks a lot more like a serious candidate than a sacrifice at just six points back:

In the first Rasmussen Reports post-primary survey of West Virginia’s U.S. Senate race, Democratic Governor Joe Manchin attracts 48% of the vote while Republican businessman John Raese earns 42%.

The latest statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows four percent (4%) prefer some other candidate while seven percent (7%) are undecided.

Just after state legislators officially approved a special Senate election this year to replace the late Robert Byrd, Manchin led Raese by a 51% to 35% margin.

Even the previous Rasmussen poll came as a surprise.  Given Manchin’s high job approval ratings as governor, everyone expected the race to be a walkover.  Even with voters barely knowing the name of Manchin’s challenger, though, they didn’t rush to get behind him, and now Manchin has lost 10 points in the gap.

Rasmussen notes the reason for this seeming contradiction:

While Manchin holds a dominant lead among voters who Strongly Approve of his performance as governor, the race is a virtual tie among those who Somewhat Approve of Manchin’s job.

Perhaps one explanation for this divide is that among those voters who Somewhat Approve of Manchin’s performance, 64% Strongly Disapprove of President Obama’s performance.

Raese only holds a narrow lead among independents in the state, 45/40, but that may change, too.  As a Democrat, one can presume that Manchin won’t fight to repeal or defund ObamaCare — or at least won’t fight very hard.  That would put him at odds with the independents in WV, 73% of whom oppose the mandates in ObamaCare, 65% strongly opposing.  A solid majority want states to sue the federal government to block the ObamaCare mandates. A majority of Democrats also oppose ObamaCare (53%, with 36% strongly opposing).

That’s not the only area where Manchin is likely to lose the unaffiliated voters.  Three-quarters of independents want the Bush tax cuts extended, and 64% of indies want all of the tax cuts extended.  Why?  Because 94% of independent voters think the economy is lousy, with 24% saying “fair” and 70% “poor.”  Sixty-five percent also say it’s getting worse rather than better (8%).

Seventy percent of independents approve of Manchin’s performance as governor, but if they send him to Washington, he won’t be in charge of the agenda.  Only 15% of independents approve of Obama’s performance, while 78% of them strongly disapprove.  Those voters won’t be anxious to send Manchin to the Senate to enable more of the Obama-Nancy Pelosi- Harry Reid agenda.  That 51% rating from before the primary may start looking pretty tasty to Manchin, and there’s now a strong possibility that the people of West Virginia may leave Manchin in the job they apparently want him to keep.  This race is far from over.


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This guy was thought to be a mortal lock… the Republican even getting close to the margin of error has to be unsettling to the Dems.

teke184 on August 30, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Except that a funny thing happened on the way to the landslide — West Virginia voters have started to question whether they want to send a Democrat to Washington again

heh. Conventional wisdom….snarked again!

ted c on August 30, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Oh my, this November (64 days) is going to be something for the record books…this maybe the largest bloodbath ever.
I can hardly wait for Nov. 3, and listen to Obama arrogant speech…I hope he starts of with “They won”…

right2bright on August 30, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Obama ramming through that health care screw up puts every democrat seat up for grabs. There are NO safe democrat seats and might well be no safe incumbents.

When Obama’s policy changes start hitting people directly, there’s gonna be a backlash of biblical proportions.

Skandia Recluse on August 30, 2010 at 2:36 PM

There are no such thing as moderate democrats.

The electorate learned this from the Obamacare travesty.

portlandon on August 30, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Thus causing Democrats to pour money & effort in a seat they should have comfortably held. Less money & time for weaker seats.

rbj on August 30, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Yummy… If this seat goes to the Republicans, we may get the Senate after all!

Khun Joe on August 30, 2010 at 2:37 PM

The Republicans need to hammer home – hard - that a vote for any dem is a vote for Pelosi or Reid. They set the agenda.

This is the best counter now that Dems are running as the “independent” choice or whatever.

Joe Caps on August 30, 2010 at 2:38 PM

This is another case where the GOP needs to be doing an advertising blitz explaining to W. Va voters that although Manchin may have governed as a conservative, and may run for Senate as a conservative, by virtue of his being a democrat he will further an extremely liberal agenda.

voters who liked him as governor will not see the same Manchin as U.S. Senator, particularly if he helps the D’s retain the Senate majority.

Monkeytoe on August 30, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Need Palin Power!

LurkerDood on August 30, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Hmmm, maybe there is some common sense in the electorate after all. I don’t care how effective the dude is as governor. If/when he gets to DC, he’ll have to toe the party line on major issues like Obamacare and tax cuts. Crap-and-betrayed he’ll probably be allowed to vote no on as that’s career suicide for rust belt Democrats. But don’t tell me after the last 2 years that there’s any such thing as a moderate Democrat(much less a conservative one) in the House or Senate.

Doughboy on August 30, 2010 at 2:40 PM

OT:
this says it all

cmsinaz on August 30, 2010 at 2:40 PM

OT: the pic and headline

cmsinaz on August 30, 2010 at 2:40 PM

If only Manchin were a former Klansman, he would have a lifetime seat.

Bishop on August 30, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Raese is a perenial candidate. And a weak run at this seat.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Raese

Ran in…
1984 U.S. Senate election
1988 West Virginia gubernatorial election
2006 U.S. Senate election

William Amos on August 30, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Maybe the governor should stay a governor.

Cindy Munford on August 30, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Every day brings good news! What could go wrong? Oops, these are leftwing politicians who’d sell their souls to hang on to their seats! Look out!

cartooner on August 30, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Because 94% of independent voters think the economy is lousy, with 24% saying “fair” and 70% “poor.” Sixty-five percent also say it’s getting worse rather than better (8%).

Surely, this is just anxiety and someone can’t spend all his time with his birth certificate plastered to his forehead or something….

ted c on August 30, 2010 at 2:42 PM

John Raese has been running ads against Obama’s agenda since the primary was set. His closing tag is something along the line of “I won’t be a rubber stamp for the Pelosi/Reid agenda.”

I’m in the red northern panhandle, but it looks like his message is getting traction statewide. Will be interesting to see Manchin twist and turn to keep his ‘preordained’ seat, because all us racist hillbillies are pretty durned fed up with this gubmint interloping.

dish on August 30, 2010 at 2:42 PM

West Virginians are figuring out that if they like their Governor, they should vote against him and keep their Governor. And keep the stinking dems out of DC…

phreshone on August 30, 2010 at 2:45 PM

I doubt very much if this election will come close to the 1894 record.

WashingtonsWake on August 30, 2010 at 2:48 PM

Every Ad that he should run should contain;
“The Democrats in Washington say, ‘I will bankrupt the coal industry’ Do you want any part of a party that wants to put YOUR FAMILY out of work?”

barnone on August 30, 2010 at 2:49 PM

Manchin is the only Democrat who can win that Senate seat. WV is getting more and more Republican as big Democrats are now all limo libs.

Voting for a Democrat is a vote for BO’s agenda. Obama only got 23% of the Democrat vote in the primary against Hillary in WV, and that was before he uncorked all the radicalism.

Keep Manchin as Governor, and elect Raese to the Senate folks.

forest on August 30, 2010 at 2:51 PM

The Number Reason Not to Go with the DEM
is: CAP $ TRADE

WV may be country but they are not stupid.

The surest way to end their way of life is to stay on course with Big O and Harry Reid. They know that as strong as their Dem Senators may be in voting against Cap & Trade the single most dangerous vote will be to put a Democrat in the Majority Seat.

Next to go is Rockefeller.

SayNo2-O on August 30, 2010 at 2:52 PM

Great news. Not sure what it does for me in (the Godforsaken shithole that is) Illinois, but every Guv’norship that goes Red instead of Blue is good news in a hundred little ways for state politics.

Jaibones on August 30, 2010 at 2:55 PM

To put 1894 in perspective:

I think this article shows that some of the situation is set up for a drubbing:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/04/14/how_bad_could_2010_really_get_for_democrats_105152.html

but when you look closely at 1894, 130 seats in the house switching parties after an election where nearly a hundred went the other way. The last election was nothing near that.

then if you look at the NY Times map http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/house You can see another problem with the 130 seat scenario – there aren’t that many seats in play.

Now, I’m willing to concede that the NY Times has a vested interest in downplaying the ‘seats in play’ but I am VERY skeptical that they’re off by 40-50 seats. If someone could explain a scenario that opens this up to 150-200 seats in play, THEN we can talk about ‘record setting’ but as it stands, I think the 1994 numbers are much closer to what we MIGHT see if things break right, and my expectations are much lower – down around 30. I don’t expect to take back the house or the senate..

WashingtonsWake on August 30, 2010 at 2:56 PM

A smart politician sees these numbers and figures out how to protect his Governorship in 2012…

With a week to go say “I’m hearing the people of our great state, and I agree, the DNC has lost touch with the people, and you cannot reward them by sending another Democrat to Washington DC. Vote for my opponent and I will continue to work for the People of West Virginia here as Governor.”

And then start working with DLC types to retake the DNC for 2012 and beyond…

Self-preservation and honor at the same time… No politician is smart enough to do it…

phreshone on August 30, 2010 at 2:56 PM

dish on August 30, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Good luck! I grew up in Glenville and the state has come a long way from Ds getting a gimme at the ballot box every time.

My dear old Mom still lives there, and God bless her, she still thinks FDR is in the White House (well, he kind of is) and would vote for anyone with a D beside their name. Once the Depression kids are gone it may become a real red state, especially with the UMWA losing it’s base due to Democrat policies.

TugboatPhil on August 30, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Yummy… If this seat goes to the Republicans, we may get the Senate after all!

Khun Joe on August 30, 2010 at 2:37 PM

I’m almost afraid to see the Republicans get control of both houses. Obama will shift the blame to the GOP and will probably compramise and win his 2nd term just like Clinton did.

Politicians on both sides of the asle really suck. The only thing I know for sure is that power corupts. I’m not looking for anything more than stopping this president’s agenda and holding back funding for all of the crap this congress has already passed.

I see no hope for positive governing.

Gridlock is our only hope!

SayNo2-O on August 30, 2010 at 3:00 PM

The eastern panhandle of WV has become increasingly conservative (IIRC) from watching Michael Barone a few years back on Fox.

SouthernGent on August 30, 2010 at 3:04 PM

I’m almost afraid to see the Republicans get control of both houses. Obama will shift the blame to the GOP and will probably compramise and win his 2nd term just like Clinton did.

SayNo2-O on August 30, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Won’t happen. Obama is too much of an ideologue. I agree that he’ll attempt to blame the GOP. As well as Bush. Hell, he was out there just this morning still blaming him for the economy. But he’s not gonna suddenly see the light on taxes or spending or repealing Obamacare.

Doughboy on August 30, 2010 at 3:05 PM

West Virginia, as a coal state, has a long tradition of electing Democrats to the Senate, but has voted for the Republican candidate in the last three Presidential elections. Byrd had been there so long that, who would think of voting him out and losing all that Senate seniority for bringing home pork? WV’s other Senator is Jay Rockefeller, and the Rockefeller name has been magic for decades on both sides of the political aisle.

But suddenly, Byrd is gone, and there’s an open race between candidates NOT named Byrd or Rockefeller. Manchin, as Governor, HAS been attentive to the needs of coal miners in WV, but some West Virginians might be thinking that he could better influence their lives as Governor than as a low-man-on-the-totem-pole freshman 1-in-100 Senator, coerced into embracing the Harry Reid agenda.

WV voters rejected Obama in 2008 and elected John McCain. Regardless of who wins, they well get a freshman Senator with no seniority–do they want a Senator who will rubber-stamp Obama and Harry Reid, or a Senator who will work with Mitch McConnell from neighboring Kentucky, while they keep their Governor?

Steve Z on August 30, 2010 at 3:08 PM

Raese’s whole ad strategy needs to be ‘Manchin is a nice guy, but the very first vote he’d have to cast is to keep Harry Reid (or his replacement) in charge of the Senate). No other vote matters as much.’

michaelo on August 30, 2010 at 3:10 PM

Joe Miller II

Mayhem on August 30, 2010 at 3:10 PM

“Teddy Kennedy’s Seat” One of the most egregious phrases in our political lexicon and one that will be remembered. Never was a seat more guaranteed to democrats than that, in the people’s republic of Massachusetts.

The electorate even in that socialist paradise revolted and gave Marcia a drubbing. I see more of that incoming.

dogsoldier on August 30, 2010 at 3:12 PM

Raese only holds a narrow lead among independents in the state, 45/40, but that may change, too.

Speaking as a West Virginia independent, I will be voting for Raese, but not because I specifically dislike Manchin. Manchin has been a fair Gov. I recall hearing Bill Crystal a few wks ago, gawking that WV had a better employment rate than Ohio. If Raese can really make this election about Obama, instead of Manchin he has a shot. I doubt there are many states where Obama is more unpopular than he is here.

humdinger on August 30, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Need Palin Power!

LurkerDood on August 30, 2010 at 2:39 PM

A Palin endorsement would be huge here. Guns, Pro-life, Trig, small state – West Virginians would eat that up. I don’t believe she has actually spoken within our borders as of yet. But I’m not sure Raese could actually land such an endorsement. Word from those who know is that he is a bit of an a#*hole, so I’m not too confident she’d be willing to go out on that limb for him. Yet, he is the ultimate outsider, and that seems to be be the common theme among those she has endorsed.

humdinger on August 30, 2010 at 3:22 PM

I’m almost afraid to see the Republicans get control of both houses. Obama will shift the blame to the GOP and will probably compramise and win his 2nd term just like Clinton did.

Politicians on both sides of the asle really suck. The only thing I know for sure is that power corupts. I’m not looking for anything more than stopping this president’s agenda and holding back funding for all of the crap this congress has already passed.

I see no hope for positive governing.

Gridlock is our only hope!

SayNo2-O on August 30, 2010 at 3:00 PM

That might be a GOOD thing. If Republicans get control of both houses, and everything they try gets shot down by an Obama veto, who will look like the obstructionist in 2012?

Obama is probably too much of an ideologue and an egotist to truly admit that the voters have rejected his previous policies, and pivot to the center as Clinton did. Clinton, for all his many faults, WAS a pragmatist, and was willing to move to the center on economic issues while staying left on social issues. Clinton had already LOST a bid for re-election as Governor of Arkansas, then pivoted toward the center to regain his post, so he knew what to do when the electorate rejects the LEFT.

But Obama is convinced of his own greatness: “I have a gift”; “This is not 1994 because you have me”; “We (I) are the ones we’ve been waiting for”; and thinks of voters as bitter clingers and mindless morons too stupid to understand his great wisdom. They can punish his allies in Congress this November, but Obama will continue to lecture his “class” until his own name is on the ballot. He may get some howls from Hillary who has been there and done that, PLEADING with him to move to the center, but since Obama is the boss, Hillary will probably be sent packing.

Would we prefer center-right government in 2011-12? Yes, but we will probably get a long string of vetoes until Obama himself is vetoed by the American people in 2012. But even if all we get is gridlock, slamming the brakes on this runaway train is better than running top speed off a cliff.

Steve Z on August 30, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Sure, let’s destroy the economy of our state by electing a worthless Democrat who will support Obama’s coal killing agenda.

I question the intelligence of the American voter. Democrats vow to destroy the lifeblood of a state and he gets nearly 50% of the vote?

We need to offer voters a choice between a chance to vote and a bag of McNuggets when they go the polls.

The ones who take the McNuggets, probably don’t need to be voting in the first place.

NoDonkey on August 30, 2010 at 3:36 PM

There are no such thing as moderate democrats.

The electorate learned this from the Obamacare travesty.

portlandon on August 30, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Absolutely, but they have to do something to try to hang on to their power, profit and perks. That something is to cry “independent” and claim they don’t answer to Obama or Pelosi or Reid. Dipsh*t Donnelly is doing that here behind the corn curtain in Indiana and I’m hearing of more Democrats trotting out this desperate dodge. It won’t work.
Obamacare hangs around their necks like a dead, rotting albatross and the greasy puss of Obamanomics oozes out of every pore, mixes with their flop sweat and runs down their quaking carcasses. Looks good on them.

Extrafishy on August 30, 2010 at 3:54 PM

Oh my, this November (64 days) is going to be something for the record books…this maybe the largest bloodbath ever.
I can hardly wait for Nov. 3, and listen to Obama arrogant speech…I hope he starts of with “They won”…

right2bright on August 30, 2010 at 2:33 PM

The Republicans have a way or perhaps the MSM has a way of finding one or two d#@$%$^t Republicans a week or two before the elections. Don’t count on massive victories yet.

jpmn on August 30, 2010 at 6:23 PM

If W. VA wants to stop Cap and Trade (which will devastate the State’s economy) they simply can not vote to keep Democrats in charge even if those Demo’s don’t support the legislation.

jpmn on August 30, 2010 at 6:26 PM

Coal, baby, coal.

paul1149 on August 30, 2010 at 8:42 PM

As a West Virginian (from a little coal/lumber town called Rainelle) I must say that I am pleasantly surprised that the race is so close. The problem will come when it is voting time. A lot of WV people have pulled Democrat for so long that I’m not sure they still have a lever for Republican in a lot of districts.

We get fired up and angry quite often, but many will still pull that Manchin lever because “my family’s been donkey since ‘fore there was a donkey.” I pray that I am wrong this year.

Pattosensei on August 30, 2010 at 9:24 PM

Sarah Palin indeed could send another political earthquake through the system.

http://www.palinpromotions.com/blog/2010/09/01/palin-is-not-done-yet-the-palin-effect-on-the-general-election/

milemarker2020 on September 2, 2010 at 12:12 AM