Rep. Shelley Moore Capito leads Democrat Secretary of State Natalie Tennant by 11 percentage points in the race for U.S. Senate, according to the latest West Virginia Poll.
The poll of 400 registered West Virginia voters shows 49 percent would vote for Capito, compared to 38 percent for Tennant. Thirteen percent didn’t know who they’d select if the election were held today.
“Shelley Moore Capito is working tirelessly to get her message out to West Virginians and it’s obvious her proven record of standing up for West Virginia values, and her tough stance on Obamacare, jobs, and the War on Coal is resonating with voters despite months of baseless and negative attacks on her record,” said Amy Graham, Capito campaign spokeswoman.
R.L. Repass & Partners conducted the poll for the Charleston Daily Mail. Other polls also show Capito leading by various margins. Both candidates easily won their primary elections and are now running to replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. Although the November General Election is still months away, pollster Rex Repass says the poll results show Capito leading in several key demographics.
“(Capito) appears to have a very strong base of support in her own party and has a 14-point lead among independents, which is an increasingly important segment of voters in the state,” Repass said.
“However, independents also make up the largest block of undecided voters.”
In August, before Tennant declared, a version of the West Virginia Poll asking about a potential Tennant-Capito race found 45 percent favored the congresswoman compared to 40 percent for the secretary of state.
While Capito dominated with Republicans in the new poll — 106 of the 124 polled said they’d vote for Capito, compared to eight who chose Tennant — she also earned 28 percent from Democrats. Those who self-identified as “moderates” favored the secretary of state by a margin of 45 to 42.
Of the 80 independents polled, 35 picked Capito, 24 picked Tennant and 21 were undecided.
In addition to 62 percent of Democrats polled going for Tennant, she faired well in several demographics that typically turn out for Democrats: 49 of 70 “liberal” voters preferred Tennant, and she showed a slight advantage among voters aged 25 to 44.
The Tennant campaign is confident voter turnout is the key to its success, pointing to years of West Virginia voter registration trends that have heavily favored Democrats.
“The primary turnout proves Natalie has the votes to win,” campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Donohue said.
“Those same voters will turn out to vote for Natalie’s West Virginia first message in November because they are tired of Congresswoman Capito doing Wall Street’s dirty work at their expense.”
Capito received less overall votes in the primary than Tennant. But in a state where 50 percent of 1.2 million voters are registered Democrats (compared to about 29 percent Republican and 19 percent independent) voting at the federal level has not been dictated by party affiliation.
Republican presidential candidates have carried the state decisively in the last two elections, with Mitt Romney receiving more than 60 percent of the vote (and every county) in 2012.
In several of her previous campaigns for the 2nd Congressional District, Capito went on to easy victories in the General Election after receiving fewer overall votes than her Democratic challenger in the primary.
While the West Virginia Poll included a slightly higher percentage of Republicans than registration totals currently reflect — 31 percent polled said they were Republicans, compared to 49 percent polled who said they were Democrats — Capito still had the advantage.
Voters older than 45 tended to prefer Capito. The male vote favored Capito by a 52-to-35 margin; 47 percent of women polled picked Capito compared to 41 percent for Tennant.
“It will be interesting to see in future polling how gender affects voter preference,” Repass said, noting West Virginia will elect its first female senator regardless of who wins.
“At this early point, Capito has a 17-point lead among men (versus) a six-point lead among women.”
The overall margin of error was 4.9 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval. McMillion Research LLC conducted the interviews for the survey. Off the 400 interviews, 62 percent were conducted using land line telephones. Thirty-eight percent were conducted online.
Millions of dollars in advertising is expected in the race before the General Election on Nov. 4.
Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.