WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Gov. Jim Justice maintains a firm lead over the field in the gubernatorial primary, but polling data released Friday shows his approval rating barely above water and within the margin of error.
According to the MetroNews West Virginia Poll, released at the state Chamber of Commerce’s annual business summit held at The Greenbrier resort, about 42 percent of voters approve of Justice, compared to 40 percent who do not.
The data stems from interviews with more than 500 registered voters between Aug. 14 and Aug. 22. The data has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
Despite the lackluster approval numbers, Justice wields a commanding lead over his primary challengers. The data shows 53 percent of likely Republican primary voters would support Justice, compared to 19 percent for Woody Thrasher and 12 percent for Mike Folk.
However, Rex Repass, president of Research America Inc., cautioned that the primary data is less reliable than the approval data, given a smaller sampling size and the span between Friday and the May gubernatorial primary.
Should Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., wade into the race, as he has hinted in recent months, he would enter with a 10-point advantage over Justice (49 percent to 39 percent), poll data suggests.
The poll did not collect data on Stephen Smith, who is running for governor as a Democrat. Repass said Smith is not included in the poll because he has not filed pre-candidacy papers for governor, specifically. The Secretary of State’s Office lists him as a pre-candidate for undeclared office.
Other poll findings include:
- President Donald Trump has a 54 percent approval rate and 38 disapproval rate.
- Manchin has a 49 percent approval rate, a 6 percent jump from a year ago.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has a 51 percent approval rate and a mere 25 percent disapproval rate.