Democratic senator Joe Manchin is ahead of Republican attorney general Patrick Morrisey by 9 points in the West Virginia Senate race, according to a new poll by Monmouth University. This poll also shows former mining executive Don Blankenship receiving four percent of the vote as a third party candidate. In a head-to-head matchup, Manchin still leads Morrisey 49-42. In the race for the Third Congressional District, Democratic candidate Richard Ojeda is slightly ahead of Republican State Representative Carol Miller 43-41. The fact that this race is close in a district that Donald Trump won by 50 points should alarm Republicans, even though the underlying political demographics favor Democrats.
A possible wildcard to keep an eye on in the Senate race is Don Blankenship, who lost the Republican primary and is trying to run on the Constitution Party ticket or as a write-in candidate. However, in order to get on the ballot he would have to go to court to challenge the state’s “sore loser” election law which prevents a losing primary candidate from running in the general election. If Blankenship qualifies for the ballot and the spread between Manchin and Morrisey tightens, Blankenship could potentially play a spoiler role on Election Day.
Manchin and Ojeda are leading in this poll despite President Donald Trump’s 67 percent approval rating in the state, one of his highest of anywhere in the country. Larry Sabato and the Cook Political Report both project the Senate race as a tossup, and the Third Congressional District race as Leans Republican.