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Morrisey leads Manchin in hypothetical general election race

CHARLESTON – U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has left open the possibility of an independent run for governor while stating he has no intentions to enter the race. But a new poll shows that Manchin would trail behind Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey while coming ahead of Democratic Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.

Kaplan Strategies, a national polling firm, conducted a poll Monday with 464 registered and likely voters in the November general election using an online panel of cell phone users through web and text responses. Poll respondents included 40% Republicans, 30% Democrats and 30% independents or those registered with other parties. The poll’s margin of error is 4.6%.

According to the poll, 34% of respondents said they would vote for Morrisey, the winner of the May Republican primary; with 26% saying they would vote for Manchin, I-W.Va.; and 21% saying they would vote for Williams, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Of those polled, 18% said they were uncertain, with Libertarian Party candidate Erika Kolenich recovering 1%.

“Endorsed by Donald Trump and being a candidate with a strong record of protecting West Virginia jobs, Patrick Morrisey will be West Virginia’s next Governor,” said Taylor Van Kirk, a spokesperson for the Morrisey campaign. “His campaign is bringing Republicans, Independents and Democrats together to focus on ensuring West Virginia will be that shining state in the mountains.”

Mike Plant, a spokesperson for the Williams campaign, pointed out when you combine the poll numbers for Williams and Manchin, it shows that Morrisey’s overall support is thin.

“This poll is extremely bad news for Patrick Morrisey,” Plant said. “Despite having served in statewide office since 2012, and having $13 million spent on his behalf in the Republican primary last month, two-thirds of West Virginia voters don’t like him and won’t vote for him…We’re very eager to continue contrasting Morrisey’s failures with Mayor Williams’ solid record of success.”

Manchin, who announced at the end of 2023 his retirement from the U.S. Senate at the end of his second six-year term at the end of 2024, switched from a registered Democrat to no party affiliation one week ago. The new registration came one day before a deadline to switch parties if considering an independent or third party run for office in the November general election.

Independent candidates are required to gather signatures of at least 1% of the total vote in the last election for the seat they are seeking. The deadline for submitting signatures is Aug. 1. Independent candidates must also file a certificate of candidacy by Aug. 1.

Rumors had persisted in May that moderate Republicans and Democrats had been bringing pressure to bear for Williams to drop out of the race for governor and for Manchin to be appointed to take his place. Manchin and Williams both disavowed that plan, with Manchin expressing support for Williams. But the timing of Manchin’s switch has rekindled talk that the former two-term governor may start collecting signatures for an independent run.

Speaking earlier this week on WV MetroNews Talkline with host Hoppy Kercheval, Manchin said he had no intentions to challenge Williams or jump into the U.S. Senate race which features Republican Gov. Jim Justice and Democratic Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott. But he also is not closing any doors on a potential run either.

According to the poll, Manchin’s combined favorability among respondents was 45%, with 26% having a very favorable view and 35% having a somewhat favorable view. Manchin’s combined unfavorable number was 48%, with 14% having a somewhat unfavorable view of Manchin and 18% having a very unfavorable view, with 7% uncertain.

“You don’t know what the political arena is going to have. You don’t know what’s going to happen in this toxic political world. So, I’ve never shut down any options whatsoever,” Manchin said. “But I have no intentions of running for any political office, elected office.”

In other results, 60% of respondents said they support Justice in the U.S. Senate race, with 27% saying they support Elliott and 13% uncertain. Justice’s combined favorable view among respondents was 61%, with 32% having a very or somewhat unfavorable view of the two-term governor with 7% uncertain.

While views are mixed on former Republican President Donald Trump following his felony conviction last week on 34 charges related to hush money payments to a porn actress, respondents said they would still vote for Trump over Democratic President Joe Biden in November.

Of those polled, 48% said they had a very favorable view of Trump, with 7% having a somewhat favorable view, but 40% of respondents had a very unfavorable view and 3% had a somewhat unfavorable view, with 2% uncertain. But Biden’s combined very and somewhat unfavorable view among respondents was 70%, with only 23% having a very or somewhat favorable view of Biden and 7% uncertain.

When asked who they would vote for today for president, 55% said they would vote for Trump, 28% said they would vote for Biden, 2% said they would vote for Mountain Party/Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and 15% were uncertain. When asked how Trump’s conviction would affect their likelihood of voting for him, 35% said they would be much more likely, 30% said it made no difference, 25% said they would be much less likely, 8% said they would be somewhat less likely, and 1% said they would be somewhat more likely.

sadams@newsandsentinel.com

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