CHARLESTON – Nearly half of registered voters surveyed think it's time for someone other than Darrell McGraw to be West Virginia's attorney general.
The MBE Voter Opinion Poll released by Mark Blankenship Enterprises also shows that current state Supreme Court Justice Robin Jean Davis leads the list of Democratic nominees for the two open seats on the bench in 2012.
The survey of 400 registered voters showed that 46 percent say it's time for someone new to be the state attorney general, while 36 percent say McGraw deserves re-election. And 22 percent are unsure. Independent voters are split on the issue – 38 percent to 38 percent.
In the Supreme Court race, Davis is favored by 21 percent of the Democrats and Independents who indicated they are most likely to vote in the Democratic Primary.
Behind Davis, Circuit Judge Jim Rowe received 14 percent, Circuit Judge J.D. Beane got 10 percent, Circuit Judge Gary Johnson got 8 percent and attorney Tish Chafin got 7 percent.
"Robin Davis is the clear front-runner in the primary while the other candidates all appear to be in a tight battle for the other nomination," said Mark Blankenship, President and CEO of MBE. "A sizeable number of these primary voters either haven't made a decision as to any of the candidates or only choose to name one, the real challenge for the candidates will be appealing to those voters."
On the Republican side, 24 percent of Republicans and Independents who indicated they are most likely to vote in the GOP Primary favor Circuit Judge John Yoder and 22 percent favor Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes. Attorney and current state Supreme Court clerk Allen Laughery received 16 percent.
"The race for the two GOP Supreme Court nominations is a bit clearer," Blankenship said. "Again, many GOP Primary voters are undecided on the race or only decided on one candidate, but with just three candidates vying for two spots the early favorites are Yoder and Wilkes."
In other 2012 races:
X It appears West Virginians would prefer either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich over President Barack Obama. Romney led Obama 45-38 in the MBE survey, and Gingrich led 54-35.
"Both Romney and Gingrich are doing well among GOP voters with each receiving more than three-fourths of their votes when pitted against President Obama," said Blankenship. "Remember that 62% of West Virginia voters do not believe President Obama deserves to be re-elected, and Republican voters appear poised to line up behind either of their party's frontrunners next November.
"Romney or Gingrich will have to appeal to those conservative Democrat and Independent voters who are willing to support a candidate other than President Obama."
X Seven in 10 West Virginia Voters believe U.S. Senator Joe Manchin deserves to be re-elected, while only 21 percent believe it is time to elect someone new to the senate.
Manchin's support is strong across most regions of West Virginia. He also receives support from Democratic, Republican and Independent voters. While 77 percent of Democrats believe Manchin should be re-elected, so to do 61 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of independent voters.
"These survey results underscore the strength and depth of Senator Manchin's support across geographic, political and other demographic lines," Blankenship said.
X The poll showed 46 percent of those surveyed say Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin deserves re-electio, and 39 percent say someone else should have the job.
X Secretary of State Natalie Tennant got support from 49 percent of those questioned, while 29 percent said someone else deserves a chance at the office.
"While a majority does not believe Gov. Tomblin deserves to be re-elected, he and Secretary of State Tennant receive more support from the state's voters than other statewide officials up for re-election next year," Blankenship said. "Tennant receives more support than other statewide officials tested.
"Even she is just shy of receiving a majority of voters who believe she deserves re-election, and this all could point to some real issues for incumbents next year," continued Blankenship. "Senator Manchin's re-election number is 70 percent while other major office holders do not exceed 50 percent. With the President's re-election number as low as it is (28 percent) I think we are seeing voters really question and evaluate incumbents."
X As for Treasurer John Perdue, 34 percent of those surveyed said someone else deserves a shot at the office, while 31 percent said Perdue deserves re-election.
X As for Auditor Glen Gainer, 39 percent said they aren't sure if he should be re-elected, while 30 percent say he should be. The other 31 percent said no.
X Four out of five polled said the development of natural gas in West Virginia will have a positive impact, including nearly half (49 percent) who believe it will be "very" positive.
"Voters are very optimistic about the development of natural gas in the state," Blankenship said. "It is an issue they are paying close attention to and clearly hoping will lead to economic and employment gains."
A majority of West Virginia voters (52 percent) believe higher federal taxes on natural gas and oil companies will hurt job creation in West Virginia, while 24 percent believe such will have no impact on job creation in the state and 14 percent believe increased taxes on the industry will help create jobs.
"West Virginia voters are historically very concerned about the state's job market and economy," Blankenship said. "With the oil and natural gas industry being a prominent topic of discussion, West Virginia voters are fairly adamant they believe higher taxes on the industry would hurt job creation, and that sentiment persists across West Virginia's geographic regions."
Survey methodology: 400 interviews were conducted between Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 among registered West Virginia voters. The average interview length was 10 minutes. A telephone list of West Virginia registered voters was used to generate the sample for this survey. Only voters who self-identified as likely voters in the next gubernatorial election completed the survey.
Each interview was conducted by a live interviewer with the assistance of software. 401 interviews yield a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Landline and high cell phone users were interviewed.
Located in Charleston, MBE is a national communications and opinion research firm. Blankenship's surveys, commentary and insights have appeared in a range of national and regional media including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Drudge Report, Fox News, Roll Call, The Hill, Politico and others.
MBE provides a range of actionable and reliable research methodologies to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, prominent law firms, media organizations, associations and non-government organizations.
For more information about the survey or MBE, visit www.markblankenship.com.