Friday, October 15, 2010
Contact: Dr. Corley Dennison, Dean, School of Journalism and Mass Communications 304-696-2809

Manchin holds double-digit lead over Raese for U.S. Senate seat in W.Va., according to new MU School of Journalism poll

HUNTINGTON, W. Va. – Gov. Joe Manchin, III leads businessman John Raese by 10 percentage points in the November West Virginia election to fill the unexpired term of late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, according to a new poll conducted on behalf of  Marshall University’s W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The Manchin campaign has emerged with a substantial lead, despite the unpopularity of President Barack Obama and his policies in the Mountain State.

In the poll of 450 likely voters conducted Oct. 11-12, Manchin, a Democrat, holds a 48-38 advantage over Raese, his Republican opponent. The governor’s lead in the poll exceeds the margin of error of 4.6 percent. 

The election will be held on Nov. 2 to replace Byrd, the longest-serving member of Congress who died June 28 after more than 50 years serving the people of West Virginia in that office.

The new poll suggests an improvement in Manchin’s campaign impact and confirms a general rise noted in other recent polls. Manchin had trailed by as many as six points in one poll but other more recent polls since early October have pegged the contest a dead heat. This is the first poll in recent days to show a substantial lead by Manchin.

The Marshall Poll also finds strong approval of Manchin’s performance as governor of West Virginia – 65 percent evaluating his job performance as good or excellent. However, there is a 23 percentage-point difference between those supporting his candidacy for the United States Senate and those favorably evaluating his performance in the governor’s office.

Manchin’s lead in the poll contrasts strong opposition to President Obama in West Virginia. In the poll, half of the voters expressed "very much worry" about Obama's health-care bill and indicated similar concern about the future of the coal industry in their state. When asked if the policies of Obama and Manchin were similar, 35 percent said "somewhat similar" and 27 percent said "very much the same."

In recent days, the governor has tried to distance himself from President Obama’s administration with a suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and campaign ads emphasizing Manchin’s NRA endorsement and his differences with Obama over the budget and energy policies.

Concerning the economy, respondents said Democrats (33 percent) are in the best position to improve the economy, versus 26 percent for Republicans and 12 percent for the tea party. Other poll results involving issues of concern to the electorate, however, underscore the challenges Manchin confronts in winning the U.S. Senate seat he was favored to win at the start of the campaign. Nearly half (47 percent) said they are “very much” worried about the health-care bill passed by Congress in the spring, half (51 percent) said they are “very much” worried about the future of the coal industry and nearly half (48 percent) said they are worried “very much” about job security.

Dr. Robert Rupp, a poll adviser and West Virginia Wesleyan professor, said “The concern about job security was reflected in another economic question on the improvement of the economy. Almost half of the survey voters (45 percent) strongly disagree with the assessment that ‘our economy is improving.’”

However, voters expressing such views do not necessarily indicate they will vote for one candidate over another because of those positions.

Another adviser on the poll, Dr. Marybeth Beller, chair and professor of political science at Marshall, made the following observations in her analysis:

Poll analysts suggest part of Manchin’s rise possibly was caused a by a major news event that took place during the polling period: Former Democratic President Bill Clinton campaigned Oct. 11 with Manchin in Morgantown. Clinton carried West Virginia during his election campaigns in 1992 and 1996, before the state tilted Republican during the past two presidential elections. 

Rupp said “The poll may have been impacted by the Clinton factor because some poll results were taken on Monday when the former president campaigned with the governor (in Morgantown). But his campaign visit could result in a false positive of no more than 2 percent, which still puts Manchin ahead by 8 percent (46 percent-38 percent) exceeding the margin of error of +/- 4.6 percent, and placing him in the lead in five of the past six public polls taken on the race since September.”

How the Marshall University School of Journalism
 and Mass Communications poll was conducted

The W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, commissioned a poll on the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican John Raese. Orion Strategies conducted the poll October 11-12, 2010. The poll also tested voter attitudes in the Mountain State.  The poll used a sample of likely voters representative of the West Virginia’s voting electorate and proportional to its three congressional districts. A total of 450 respondents completed the survey in its entirety.   Names were rotated in questions dealing with campaigns to reduce bias.  The margin of error is +-4.6 percent with a confidence rate of 95 percent. The survey was conducted by live interviewers only, and no automated response system was used.

Orion Strategies, with locations in Charleston and Buckhannon, conducts public opinion polling in West Virginia for political campaigns, media outlets and institutions of higher education.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications is an accredited program and offers programs of study for undergraduate and graduate students. The school offers majors in broadcast, print, sports and online journalism, advertising, public relations and radio-television production and management.


Marshall University Questionnaire


Now, I’d like to ask you to evaluate Joe Manchin’s performance as governor. Would you say it is:

5 Excellent 37%
4 Good 38%
3 Don’t know/recognize 6%
2 Fair 12%
1 Poor 7%
Total 100%


If the November Election for United States Senate were being held today, would you vote for Republican Nominee John Raese or Democratic Nominee Joe Manchin:

John Raese 38%
Neither 2%
Not sure 12%
Jesse Johnson 0%
Joe Manchin 48%
Total 100%


Please listen to the following the statement: Our economy has been improving. Do you

Very much agree 10%
Somewhat agree 22%
Not sure 6%
Somewhat disagree 17%
Strongly disagree 45%
Total 100%


Please tell us how worried you are about the following individual topics as issues in your OWN household:

a. The Heath Care bill passed by Congress

5 Very much 48%
4 Somewhat 19%
3 Not Very Much 8%
2 Don't Know/Not Sure 9%
1 Not at all 16%
Total 100%

b. Coal Industry

5 Very much 51%
4 Somewhat 16%
3 Not Very Much 8%
2 Don't Know/Not Sure 8%
1 Not at all 16%
Total 100%

c. Job Security

5 Very much 47%
4 Somewhat 15%
3 Not Very Much 8%
2 Don't Know/Not Sure 5%
1 Not at all 25%
Total 100%


Which political affiliation is in the best position to help improve the economy?

1 Democrats 33%
4 Republicans 26%
5 TEA Party 12%
2 Unsure 16%
3 None of the Above 13%
Total 100%


How strongly do you believe the TEA Party represents your views?

5 Very much 23%
4 Somewhat 23%
3 Not Very Much 22%
2 Don't Know/Not Sure 8%
1 Not at all 23%
Total 100%


To what degree do you believe Joe Manchin and President Obama share the same policy positions?

They differ greatly 8%
Very little 9%
Not sure 21%
Somewhat similar 35%
Very much the same 27%
Total 100%


Please tell me which of the following best describes your marital status.

Married 74%
Single 5%
Divorced/separated 4%
Widowed 14%
Refused 2%
Total 100%


Are you, or is anyone in this household, a member of a labor union?

Non-union household 76%
Not sure 4%
Labor union household 20%
Total 100%


Do you consider yourself a "fundamentalist" or "evangelical" Christian?

Yes 68%
Not sure 10%
No 22%
Total 100%


How would you describe your point of view in terms of the political parties? Would you say you are mostly Democratic, leaning Democratic, completely Independent, leaning Republican, or mostly Republican?

7 Mostly Democratic 32%
6 Leaning Democratic 10%
5 Completely Independent 15%
4 None (VOL) 2%
3 Not sure 3%
2 Leaning Republican 16%
1 Mostly Republican 22%
Total 100%


For statistical purposes only, we need to know your total family income range for 2010. I'm going to read you a list of categories.

Under $40,000 39%
Over $40,000 42%
Not sure (VOL) 7%
Refused 12%
Total 100%


How regularly do you attend religious services?

Never 12%
Rarely 14%
Once or twice a year 10%
Once a month 9%
Weekly 36%
More than Once a Week 19%
Total 100%


In what age group are you?

18-24 7%
25-34 3%
35-49 11%
50-64 32%
65 and over 47%
Total 100%

For further information, contact:  Office of University Communications
Marshall University | 213 Old Main | Huntington, WV 25755-1090
Fax: (304) 696-3197