West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin and Republican businessman John Raese continue to run a surprisingly close race in the state’s special Senate election to replace the late Robert Byrd.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in West Virginia shows Manchin with 50% support and Raese with 45%, when leaners are included. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and three percent (3%) are undecided.
The West Virginia race now moves from Leans Democratic to a Toss-Up in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Senate Balance of Power rankings. Less than two weeks ago, the first post-primary survey of the race moved it from Solid Democratic to Leans Democratic.
Leaners are those who initially indicate no preference for either of the candidates but answer a follow-up question and say they are leaning towards a particular candidate. From this point forward, Rasmussen Reports considers results with leaners the primary indicator of the race.
If leaners are not included, Manchin posts a 48% to 44% lead over Raese. In late August just after the two men won their respective party primaries, Manchin was ahead 48% to 42%. In a hypothetical matchup in July after state legislators officially approved the special Senate election this year, Manchin led Raese by a 51% to 35% margin.
Sixty-six percent (66%) of those who support Manchin say they are already certain how they will vote in November, as do 65% of Raese’s backers.
Manchin remains highly popular in the state, with 67% approving of the job he is doing as governor versus 32% who disapprove.
A slight plurality (42%) of West Virginia voters, in fact, say it would be better for the state if Manchin remained as governor. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say it would be more beneficial for West Virginia if Manchin represented it in the Senate, but another 21% are undecided.
Manchin is running in a state hard hit by the bad economy and where disapproval of President Obama is even higher than it is nationally. West Virginia voters also favor repeal of the national health care law more strongly than voters nationwide.
The survey of 500 Likely Voters in West Virginia was conducted on September 8, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.