CHARLESTON – A new poll shows incumbent Joe Manchin with an edge over the two top Republican challengers for the 2018 U.S. Senate race.

According to the MetroNews West Virginia Poll released Sept. 1, Manchin has a 50-40 edge over Congressman Evan Jenkins and a 52-38 advantage over state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. In both head-to-head matchups, the poll shows 11 percent were undecided.

Right now, Manchin is the only Democrat in West Virginia’s congressional delegation. Political scientist Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball site lists the race as “leans Democratic,” while the Cook Political Report sees it as a tossup.

Morrisey's campaign spokeswoman said the results show Manchin's standing is dropping with West Virginia voters.

"This is not surprising given Sen. Manchin's liberal record of supporting cap-and-trade, Hillary Clinton, and Obamacare," Nachama Soloveichik told The West Virginia Record. "When voters learn that Evan Jenkins has the same liberal record, they will reject him as well."

Jenkins’ campaign strategist was pleased with the results of the poll.

“Evan Jenkins is the only candidate who can win next November” Andy Seré told The Record. “After financial resources are deployed introducing Jenkins to voters outside his congressional district, his support will only grow from here.

“As evidenced by the 44-point margin by which Jenkins won his first re-election in 2016, his conservative leadership resonates with West Virginians.”

Seré said that isn’t the case with Morrisey.

“After five years in statewide office, millions spent on statewide TV ads just last year, and on the heels of his Senate campaign kick-off in July, it appears the attorney general has reached his ceiling,” Seré said. “Morrisey has had his chance to earn the confidence of West Virginia voters, and he’s failed miserably.

“Republicans will not nominate someone whose baggage from 20 years in D.C. lobbying for big-moneyed liberal interests has left him too battered and bruised to beat an incumbent U.S. senator."

West Virginia’s primary election is May 8, and the general election is Nov. 6, 2018.

In addition to Jenkins and Morrisey, former coal miner Bo Copley has announced plans to run as Republicans for the Senate seat currently occupied by Manchin. Manchin will face primary competition from environmental activist Paula Jean Swearengin, who already has been endorsed by the Brand New Congress political action committee formed by former staff members and supporters of Bernie Sanders. Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship also has hinted as running as a Republican or an Independent.

The West Virginia Poll resulted from interviews with 400 likely voters in West Virginia conducted Aug. 11-20. Likely voters in all 55 West Virginia counties were represented in the survey, modeled to the number of registered voters based on data from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office.

According to Rex Repass, director of the West Virginia Poll and president of Research America Inc., when using multiple data collection methods, it is not appropriate to apply a probability-based margin of error to interviews completed. However, applying statistical tests of significance to each question asked at the 95 percent confidence interval yields an overall statistical error of +/- 4.9 percentage points based on the 400 interviews. The 95 percent confidence interval varies by question.

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