MORGANTOWN – Recently, we released the results of the MetroNews Dominion Post West Virginia Poll. One of the key findings was Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s eight point lead over Republican challenger Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (46 percent to 38 percent with 16 percent undecided).
A closer look at the crosstabs tells us more about what West Virginia voters think about the race. Here are some of the key findings:
* Manchin is better known among likely voters, and that’s reflected in his approval ratings. The incumbent Democratic Senator has a 59 percent approval rating among members of his own party, while Morrisey’s approval rating among Republicans is only 46 percent.
Most voters have already made up their minds about Manchin. Just 18 percent are not sure whether they approve or disapprove of the Senator. Morrisey is an enigma to more voters. Thirty-three percent of all voters are unsure about him, including 28 percent of self-identified Republicans.
* Republicans badly want to knock off Manchin, but not all Republican voters are on board. The West Virginia Poll shows Manchin with a 36 percent approval rating among GOP voters. By contrast, Morrisey’s approval rating among Democrats is only 18 percent. Fifty four percent of Democrats disapprove of Morrisey, while 49 percent of Republicans disapprove of Manchin.
* Independent voters make up an increasingly large block in West Virginia. They now account for one in five registered voters (22 percent). The West Virginia Poll shows Manchin has a problem here. Just 30 percent of Independent voters approve of Manchin, while 43 percent disapprove.
By contrast 26 percent of Independents approve of Morrisey, while 27 percent disapprove. Once again, Morrisey has an identity issue here, because nearly half of all the Independent voters questioned (47 percent) just are not sure whether they approve or disapprove of him.
* The poll shows Manchin’s support is more broadly spread across the political ideology spectrum than Morrisey. Sixty-four percent of liberals, 44 percent of moderates and 30 percent of conservatives approve of Manchin.
Voters who approve of Morrisey are farther to the right. Forty-nine percent of conservatives approve of Morrisey, but just 21 percent of moderates and 17 percent of liberals approve of him.
* President Donald Trump has the strongest numbers of any of the leading political figures in the state. His 60 percent approval rating is spread across political parties and ideologies. Eighty-six percent of Republicans, 55 percent of Independents and 36 percent of Democrats approve of him.
Ninety percent of conservatives support Trump, while 50 percent of the moderates and even 25 percent of self-identified liberals approve of the President.
Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.