By Carole on Jul 23, 2010
The primaries to determine the candidates who will battle for the seat vacated by the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) are little more than a month away. But most who are watching the race believe it will be a contest between Governor Joe Manchin (D) and Republican industrialist John Raese. The latest poll shows the Governor with a significant 16 point lead (51% - 35%) so should we put this one in the Democratic win column? Not yet.
According to the poll, Mr. Manchin has the support of 78% of Democrats while Mr. Raese would win only 56% of Republicans if the election were held today. Mr. Raese has a 12 point lead among voters not affiliated with either major political party. (source) These are the all-important independents that most experts believe will determine many midterm elections.
But more than party affiliation, the outcome of this race may depend on the Obama Factor. The president's approval rating in West Virginia is a dismal 34% (source), two years ago Hillary Clinton defeated Candidate Obama in the state's Democratic primary by over 40 points and Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) won West Virginia handily in the 2008 presidential election.
Although Governor Manchin is considered a centrist, he has strongly supported President Obama's far-left policies including health care reform. "I think if I was Joe Manchin right now...I'd be doing some denouncing now of what's going on in Washington," Mr. Raese recently said. "And I don't hear a lot of denouncing." (source)
In short, the race in the Mountain State will most likely be between a Democrat strongly supports the Obama agenda and appointed a place-holding Senator for the sole purpose of voting for the Obama agenda versus a Republican with a pro-business, low-tax, low-regulation platform and plenty of his own money to finance a campaign sure to get his message out. And it will all happen in a state that strongly disapproves of President Obama.
Once the August 28 primaries are held and the campaign begins in earnest, expect some serious erosion of the Democrat's lead and a possible Republican upset in November.
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