Unlikely Voter

Poll Analysis and Election Projection

Surprise movement in West Virginia

I know the whole world has discussed this poll to death already, but I think it deserves mentioning. In fact I would have yesterday but Gallup got in the way.

But here it is: Rasmussen suddenly shows Republican John Raese competitive with Democrat Joe Manchin in the West Virginia Senate race.

There’s no doubt that Manchin 48-Raese 42 (MoE 4.5) is a competitive result. Yes, I show Manchin ahead 75% of the time after this poll, but a one in four chance of winning is rather high when Manchin is a highly popular incumbent Governor.

However even as Manchin is at 70% job approval, Barack Obama is at 64% Strong Disapproval. West Virginia voters are clearly happy with the job he has done in state, but they’re not entirely sure they want to send the President another Democrat to promote his agenda.

In partisan terms West Virginia seems to be behind the times. It’s a one party state for the Democrats, but of a kind of more right-wing Democrat that has largely switched to the Republican party in other states from 1980 to 1994. The deep south has gone heavily toward the Republicans but West Virginia even more than Arkansas has mostly stayed true to the Democrats. Maps like that of the 1988 Presidential election illustrate this so well, as the state went for Mike Dukakis even as all its neighbors went for George Bush.

This poll is a sign that West Virginia may finally shift over to the Republican party. It’s already following the same pattern as that of the deep south, having voted Republican in the last three Presidential elections, in fact going for John McCain even as many neighbors went for Barack Obama! The pattern is there, but it is just shifted forward, starting and ending later than the rest.

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