Joe Manchin’s vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh looked like a way to guarantee his re-election in November. To the extent that a Kavanaugh effect exists, Manchin seemed to inoculate himself against it. Most thought that Patrick Morrisey’s (no relation) challenge would run out of steam.
Two new polls, however, not only show Morrisey hanging around, but show him gaining on Manchin in the election’s final days. The most recent Metro News poll puts it just a skosh outside the margin of error, with Manchin at only 45%:
The latest version of the MetroNews Dominion Post West Virginia Poll shows Manchin up by 5 percentage points over Morrisey.
The poll shows 45 percent of likely voters favoring Manchin, 40 percent favoring Morrisey, 11 percent for Libertarian Rusty Hollen and 5 percent undecided.
That’s a smaller gap than the last version of the poll in August, which showed Manchin ahead by 8 points. It’s also closer than some other national polls have been showing.
And the 5 points is right at the West Virginia Poll’s margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.
In other words, it looks a lot like a virtual dead heat, in this poll at least. The most recent poll from Emerson also finds Manchin with only a five-point lead over Morrisey, 47/42, although that poll’s MoE is ±3.2%. Unlike the MetroNews poll, Emerson only puts Hollen’s support at 3% with 8% undecided. Morrisey is carrying independents in the race by a seven-point margin, 45/38, with 16% of independents still undecided. He’ll need to win those away from Manchin at the end.
In neither poll does Manchin get to 50%, and that might be a big red flag. Manchin is not just an incumbent, he’s a well-known and relatively popular figure in West Virginia. He’s more popular than Morrisey in the Emerson poll; Manchin gets a 46/43 favorability rating while his challenger gets a 35/52 rating. And yet Morrisey has steadily outperformed that rating while Manchin, despite all of his advantages, barely keeps pace with his.
Manchin has only gotten to 50% in one poll since August — a 52% reading immediately after the Kavanaugh confirmation vote, in a WSAZ poll. Take that one out of the mix and Manchin’s support hasn’t risen above 47% in any poll since July. That leaves the door open to a big wave of last-minute deciders choosing between giving Chuck Schumer a sometimes-reliable vote or picking the candidate most likely to consistently support Donald Trump’s agenda … and Trump gets a 56/39 favorability rating in the Emerson poll, far above either candidate.
The Kavanaugh effect, in other words, might not have lasted long enough to rescue Manchin. Keep an eye on this race for a potential surprise on Tuesday.