Morning Digest: Independent poll finds Democrat Joe Manchin ahead in West Virginia Senate race
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● WV-Sen: New Jersey-based Monmouth University has just published the first independent poll of the West Virginia Senate race, and it has good numbers for Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin no matter how you slice it. The survey finds Manchin beating Republican Joe Morrisey by anywhere from 7 to 11 points, depending on the model used and whether disgraced coal baron Don Blankenship is included as a third-party candidate.
However, we still need to explain what all these models mean. Monmouth offered up no fewer than three different portraits of the race, just as it has with other recent polls, which is an interesting way to disclose the uncertainty inherent in any polling model but unlikely to leave us with much clarity. The first of these models, the school explains, reflects what it calls «potential voters,» which includes anyone who has voted in at least one primary or general election between 2010 and 2016, or first registered to vote in January of 2016 or later—a screen that captures 73 percent of registered voters.
The others Monmouth describes as «likely voter» models, one reflecting historical midterm turnout and a third that attempts to forecast «a turnout surge in areas where Democrats tend to perform more strongly»—in other words, what a Democratic wave (or at least, a strong Democratic year) might look like. These tighter screens each reflect about 60 percent of registered voters.
Ultimately, though, it doesn't make too much difference which model Monmouth uses. In a two-way race with Morrisey, Manchin leads 49-42 among potential voters, 50-43 with historical midterm turnout, and 51-42 under the «Democratic surge» model. These various sets of numbers aren't too different from a mid-May internal poll for Manchin that had him ahead 47-40. Manchin's allies at the DSCC also released a poll last month giving him a wider 52-40 lead. The only GOP poll we've seen here, by contrast, was a survey taken just after the early May primary that found Morrisey ahead 46-44.
None of those matchups included Blankenship, who finished third in the GOP primary but still claims he's waging a third-party bid in the general election (even though it seems like West Virginia law may bar him from doing so). Monmouth, however, did test Blankenship under the Constitution Party line, and while he doesn't register much, he does hurt Morrisey a bit.
Manchin leads his Republican opponent 48-39 with potential voters, while Blankenship manages just 4 percent of the vote. Similarly, Manchin beats Morrisey 49-40 and 50-39 under the historical midterm turnout and Democratic surge models, respectively, while Blankenship grabs a mere 2 percent in each. In other words, with Blankenship in the race, Manchin's margin in every matchup is 2 points wider than without him. If Monmouth is accurate, however, Morrisey is in a tough spot even if Blankeship doesn't appear on the ballot.