Emerson: West Virginia almost heaven for Trump ... and Joe Manchin

At times, Joe Manchin has seemed like the most hospitable Senate Democrat to Donald Trump — and that may be paying off for him as the midterms approach. A new poll from Emerson shows the president remains very popular in West Virginia, but so does Manchin. He leads Attorney General Patrick Morrisey [no relation — Ed] in the upcoming Senate race by double digits:

A new Emerson College e-Poll finds US Senator Joe Manchin (D) leading the State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) 45% to 33%, 16% were undecided. The poll was conducted between September 13-15, mm, n=825, +/- 3.5%.

President Trump continues to be popular in West Virginia with a 55% favorability rating and a 36% unfavorable rating. Manchin also is popular in the state, but not as popular as Trump, with a 47% favorable and 37% unfavorable rating among voters. Manchin’s opponent, Morrisey, is underwater with a 44% unfavorable rating and a 32% favorable rating.

While Morrisey competes with Manchin among male voters with 37% of the vote compared with 40% for Manchin, females prefer Manchin by a wide margin – 49% to 29%.

On the heels of worrisome polling from CNN in Tennessee and Arizona, this isn’t very encouraging. West Virginia has been enthusiastically #MAGA for two years, and it was hardly unthinkable that voters might express their support for Trump in this race. (That seems to be what’s happening in TN and AZ, actually, assuming those polls are within range of reality.) Instead, Manchin has a double-digit lead, and that’s not exactly an outlier, either.

There are a couple of reasons to maintain some hope, however. First, Morrisey is a substantial candidate, not a novice who fluked his way onto the ballot. He might well be able to still make some gains, especially because of reason #2: the high level of undecideds. An incumbent at 45% isn’t all that safe, as late deciders tend to break away from the incumbent, and 16% still say they haven’t made a choice yet. The six percent choosing “other” might tend to gravitate back to the major-party challenger, too. That’s nearly one in four voters who could be in play with less than eight weeks to go. Morrisey would have to make most of them turn to him, or Manchin would have to find a way to alienate them, and neither is entirely impossible at this point.

Manchin must know this, which is why he’s tiptoeing around the Kavanaugh/Ford controversy:

Manchin’s no dummy and no novice, either. He’s going to step veeeeeerrrrrrry carefully for the next couple of weeks, and will blow wherever the wind blows at the final moment.

Speaking of winds, here’s Chuck Schumer telling The View that Democrats will seize control of the Senate in the midterms. It’s also not entirely impossible.

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David Strom 8:31 PM on November 29, 2022