A couple of weeks before the primary, public polls showed Blankenship a distant third, trailing two quality candidates — Attorney General Patrick Morrissey and Congressman Evan Jenkins. A Fox News poll showed Blankenship picking up 16 percent of the vote, not far from the 19 percent he actually received on Election Day. It certainly doesn’t provide any sense of pro-Blankenship momentum.
The Blankenship-was-surging storyline came from “internal polling” leaked to the media. As a general rule, it’s wise to be very skeptical of such internal polls and to remember that the leaker has an agenda. But such skepticism was missing in the run-up to primary day as Politico reported that victory was “within reach” for Blankenship. Not only that, there were reports of “finger-pointing” going on behind the scenes in GOP circles. Some were blaming the White House, some the other West Virginia candidates, and some Mitch McConnell.
How did this happen? I suspect the story took off because elite journalists and national Republican political operatives were predisposed to believe it.