That does not appear to be the case on the Republican side. If Shelley Moore Capito reverses course and decides to run for Governor this year, the nomination is hers for the taking. But barring that Betty Ireland is an overwhelming favorite.
72% of GOP voters say they would want Capito to be the nominee if she ran with only 10% preferring Ireland over her. Clark Barnes is at 5% with Capito in the picture and Mark Sorsaia and Mike Stuart each barely register at 1%. Capito’s favorability rating with Republican primary voters is a pretty remarkable 78/9 spread and the gap between her and Ireland makes it very clear who the most beloved Republican in the state is.
Capito doesn’t seem likely to enter though and if she doesn’t Ireland has a similarly dominant lead over the field, registering as the first choice of 46% of Republican voters to 11% for Barnes, 9% for Sorsaia, and 4% for Stuart. Name recognition is an issue here too with Ireland known to 49% of GOP primary voters compared to only 21% for Barnes and 17% for Stuart, but that still leaves quite a hill to climb for the other Republicans interested in running.
We don’t know whether there’s even going to be a primary but if there is things look a lot more settled on the Republican side than they do for the Democrats.