An internal poll conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee puts Republican candidate Patrick Morrisey just one percentage point behind incumbent Joe Manchin, by a 41–40 margin among likely voters. The poll was commissioned one day after Manchin’s vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh and was first reported by Roll Call.
Though Manchin is as vulnerable as any red-state Democrat, he has generally been considered the favorite in the race. President Trump won West Virginia by a 42-point margin in 2016 and, per Morning Consult, continues to enjoy a +29 approval margin. Manchin is the state’s senior political figure and enjoys the corresponding name recognition, but his approval margin is less impressive: Per Morning Consult, 44 percent of West Virginians approve of him while 43 percent disapprove. Morrisey’s name recognition isn’t much of an issue, given his current post as state attorney general.
Manchin has consistently led in the polls. He holds a 9.4 percent lead in the RealClearPolitics average, and the most recent independent poll, commissioned before the Kavanaugh controversy erupted, gave Manchin the lead by a 46–38 margin. That poll also found higher approval ratings for Manchin, who was visible in voting for Brett Kavanaugh immediately after Susan Collins broke the deadlock. Morrisey criticized Manchin’s vote as political opportunism, a message that could be taking hold.