Justice Opens Lead Over Manchin In WV Senate Race Poll

A recent poll has shown West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) surging ahead of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) by 13 percentage points in the 2024 race for the U.S. Senate seat up for grabs in the Mountain State. This development offers a snapshot of the state’s shifting political landscape and the broader national scene.

According to the poll conducted by Emerson College, if the election were held today, Justice would claim victory with 41% of the vote against Manchin’s 28%. While this margin seems significant, a closer look reveals that 16% of voters are still undecided, and another 15% have voiced their intention to cast ballots for another candidate.

But the plot thickens. The same poll pitched Senator Manchin against Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), suggesting a closer race. Manchin also took the lead in this matchup with 37% compared to Mooney’s 31%. It’s evident that the changing winds of West Virginia’s political atmosphere don’t necessarily favor one party over the other but rather specific candidates.

Spencer Kimball, Emerson College Polling’s executive director, provided insight into this shift, attributing it to the state’s independent voters. In the race between Manchin and Justice, he noted, “Independents are breaking for Justice, 43% to 18%.” Yet, against Mooney, independents stand evenly divided at 32% for each candidate.

Governor Justice’s approval rating sheds light on this advantage. Boasting a 40% approval among West Virginians, with only 26% disapproving, Justice appears to be resonating with his constituency. The figures also reveal bipartisan support for Justice, as approximately 50% of Republican voters, 34% of Democrats, and 35% of independent voters approve of his governorship.

Here is an ad being run by the Justice Senate campaign:

In contrast, Joe Biden’s numbers in West Virginia are staggeringly low, with a 19% approval rate and a whopping 71% disapproval. Whether that sentiment impacts Manchin’s prospects remains to be seen. Still, the association with a failing Democratic president certainly doesn’t help.

Most of West Virginia’s electorate remains skeptical about the 2020 presidential election results. The survey found that 51% believe President Donald Trump should have won, while only 25% are convinced of Biden’s legitimate victory. This sentiment is only strengthened by Trump not losing a single county in West Virginia during the 2020 election. The 45th President remains popular in the state, leading Biden 59% to 23% in a hypothetical 2024 presidential election matchup.

The stakes are high for Manchin, a longstanding political figure in the state who has repeatedly emphasized his dedication to West Virginians. “I am laser-focused on doing the job West Virginians elected me to do,” he asserted, signaling his confidence in an upcoming race, “I will win any race I enter.”

Manchin’s recent mulling over leaving the Democratic Party, expressing dissatisfaction with the national party’s image, further complicates the electoral landscape. “In West Virginia, the D brand, because it’s the national brand. It’s not the Democrats in West Virginia, it’s the Democrats in Washington,” he noted during a recent radio interview.

As the 2024 Senate race draws nearer, the shifting political tides in West Virginia will undoubtedly capture national attention. The contest, set against a backdrop of broader national issues and sentiments, might be a bellwether for the country’s political future.