GOPAC Election Fund finds Morrisey & Jenkins lead in West Virginia Republican Senate Primary Election


GOPAC Election Fund finds Morrisey & Jenkins lead in West Virginia Republican Senate Primary Election.

Incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Manchin shows vulnerabilities in General Election.

Arlington, VA (April 24, 2018) – GOPAC Election Fund today announced the results of its recent voter research survey for the U.S. Senate race in West Virginia. The research was conducted by Adam Geller with National Research.

“In spite of the current political punditry, Republicans are still in position to gain seats in the U.S. Senate, starting with West Virginia. Senator Manchin is in a political cross current voting with the DC Democrats at a time when West Virginia voters are clearly supportive of President Trump, his recent tax cuts and his policies,” said GOPAC Chairman David Avella. “With regards to the Republican Primary Election, while 39% of voters remain undecided, it appears that Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has carved out a modest lead over Congressman Evan Jenkins.”

Full survey results below:

Section One: State of the GOP Primary

Most Republican voters remain undecided in the primary for US Senate, but among those who have decided, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey holds a slight lead over Congressman Evan Jenkins.  Businessman Don Blankenship is presently in third place, followed by the rest of the field.

The results of the primary ballot are as follows:

              24%     Patrick Morrisey
              20%     Evan Jenkins
              12%     Don Blankenship
               3%       Tom Willis
               1%       Bo Copley
               1%       Jack Newbrough
              39%     Undecided

 Of note: Jenkins leads Morrisey 44%-16% in the Bluefield DMA, and 30%-22% in the Charleston DMA, while Morrisey leads in the rest of the state. Blankenship’s strongest media markets are Clarksburg and Washington DC, where he is second place, trailing Patrick Morrisey 27%-16% and 23%-15% respectively.

  Morrisey Jenkins Blankenship Willis Copley Newbrough Und.
Bluefield DMA (13%) 16% 44% 6% 2% 32%
Charleston DMA (30%) 22% 30% 14% 3% 3% 28%
Clarksburg DMA (17%) 27% 10% 16% 4% 43%
Washington D.C. DMA (17%) 23% 3% 15% 3% 56%
Parkersburg DMA (8%) 31% 16% 4% 2% 47%
Pittsburgh DMA (7%) 49% 13% 3% 9% 6% 21%
Wheeling DMA (8%) 17% 14% 10% 4% 2% 53%

The Bottom Line:   Plenty of voters remain undecided, and in addition to the upcoming debate on Fox News, there will be significantly more commercials and communications from the candidates. At this point, it appears that Patrick Morrisey has carved out a modest lead over Evan Jenkins. 

Section Two: State of the General Election

Senator Joe Manchin is potentially vulnerable in the general election.  

The generic ballot for US Senate in West Virginia is +12 Republican. The Republican leads the Democrat 49%-37%. 

If the election for US Senate were being held today, for whom would you be more likely to vote?
49% The Republican Candidate
37% The Democrat Candidate
4% The Independent
11% Undecided

By party, Republicans are more oriented to vote for their generic candidate than Democrats are. And Independent voters are heavily generically Republican.

  Republican Democrat Undecided
Republicans (32%) 74% 13% 12%
Democrats (43%) 27% 59% 9%
Independents (25%) 55% 29% 11%

Senator Manchin trails a generic Republican by 4 points, 37%-41%.

While the Senator does well among his Democratic base, he trails badly among Independents.

If the election for U.S. Senate were being held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were the Republican candidate, or Joe Manchin, the Democrat?
41% The Republican Candidate
37% Joe Manchin
20% Lean/Undecided

  Republican Candidate Manchin Lean/ Undecided
Republicans (32%) 62% 15% 20%
Democrats (43%) 22% 59% 17%
Independents (25%) 49% 26% 23%

To be clear, Senator Manchin has a 51% job approval – but it is very soft and represents a downward trend in job approval that other polls have pointed out.

Senator Manchin only has a 43% approval rating among Independent voters.

Do you approve or disapprove of the job that Joe Manchin is doing as your U.S. Senator?
51% Total Approve
36% Total Disapprove
13% Don’t Know

  Approve Disapprove
Republicans (32%) 38% 50%
Democrats (43%) 70% 21%
Independents (25%) 43% 38%

President Trump holds a VERY strong job approval rating in West Virginia.   His job approval stands at 62%, while 34% disapprove.

Do you approve or disapprove of the job that Donald Trump is doing as President?
62% Total Approve
34% Total Disapprove
3% Unsure

Here is the problem for Senator Manchin: Among those who approve of the job the President is doing, Senator Manchin trails badly against the generic Republican.             

  Republican Candidate Manchin Lean/ Undecided
Trump Approvers (62%) 62% 15% 21%

Adding to the Senator’s potential electoral headache is his vote against the President’s tax cuts.  Half of the electorate would be less likely to vote for him when they learn of this vote.

Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for Joe Manchin if you knew that he voted against President Trump’s tax cuts?
31% More Likely
49% Less Likely
20% Unsure

This issue cuts against him among voters who are undecided in the Senate ballot; even worse for him, it gives 12%  of his own voters a reason to be less likely to support him. In a close race, this is a consequential amount of voters.

  More Likely Less Likely Don’t Know
Senate Ballot: Republican (41%) 6% 87% 8%
Senate Ballot: Manchin (37%) 66% 12% 21%
Senate Ballot: Lean/Und (20%) 22% 39% 37%
Senate Ballot: Lean (5%) 34% 57% 9%


Other Findings:

  • Another item that potentially harms Senator Manchin is when voters learn that President Trump said of him, “He talks. But he doesn’t  do anything.”   After hearing that statement, 43% would be less likely to vote for Senator Manchin.
  • Over half (53%) of West Virginia voters agree with the following statement:  “President Trump’s recent moves on tariffs and better trade deals are designed to help create and protect jobs in West Virginia.” Of note, 71% of Republicans agree with this statement, as do 60% of  Independents.  Almost 4-in-10 (37%) of Democrats agree with it as well.


The Bottom Line
: Senator Manchin could be a victim of the political environment. This is a very pro-Trump state, and the Senator appears to be potentially vulnerable to cross currents related to that popularity. His vote against the President’s tax cuts add to his vulnerability.

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Contact: Christina Norton • cnorton@gopac.org

The GOPAC Election Fund is dedicated to assisting GOPAC affiliated legislators running for federal and state offices. For nearly four decades, GOPAC’s programs have focused on ensuring the Republican Party has a healthy roster of prepared and tested leaders ready to run for higher office.