West Virginia’s Democratic senator, Joe Manchin III, is considering an independent run for reelection. An internal survey, however, shows that he would not enhance his standing with voters by leaving the party.
Mr. Manchin would lose to Republican Senate candidate and West Virginia Governor Jim Justice in a head-to-head battle by six points (49%-43%), according to a survey performed by Republican pollster The Terrance Group for the Senate Leadership Fund. The Super PAC backs Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate minority in Kentucky.
Even if Mr. Manchin ran as an independent, he would lose registered independent voters to Mr. Justice by a margin of 11 points, according to the poll.
The idea of Manchin running independently while still being able to caucus among Democrats is seen unfavorably by a majority of voters (52%). 36% of respondents had a favorable impression of the change.
Manchin has not decided what he wants to do with his political career and has even considered running for president with a minor party. As a Democrat, Mr. Manchin has been in even more precarious situations when running against Mr. Justice, with double-digit deficits, according to some polls. According to our survey, Mr. Manchin’s candidacy as an independent would only narrow the gap slightly.
Mr. Justice must beat Rep. Alex Mooney in the Republican primary. According to the polls, the governor is way ahead of the congressman.
Between September 24 and 26, 2018, 500 West Virginia likely voters participated in the survey. There is a 4.5 percentage point error margin.
With 8% still undecided and a 4.5 percentage point margin of error, Justice would defeat Manchin 49 to 43. Senate Leadership Fund, affiliated with Mitch McConnell, commissioned the survey.
There has been no definitive determination on whether or not Manchin will run for president or the Senate as an independent.
It appears likely Manchin will wait until the end of the year to decide whether or not to seek reelection for a full term in office. Arizona’s centrist Kyrsten Sinema, formerly a Democrat but recently switched parties, is likewise on the fence about whether or not to seek reelection.