Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, shows West Virginia's Democratic governor and Senate candidate Joe Manchin with a 6-point lead over Republican John Raese, 50% to 44%. Two weeks ago, PPP put Manchin up 3 points over Raese, while Rasmussen showed Raese with a 7-point lead six days ago.

The fact that PPP predicts a more Democratic electorate than Rasmussen does explains a good deal of the difference between the two polls.

Rasmussen's partisan spread in its poll a week ago was 48% Democrat, 35% Republican, 17% independent.

PPP's partisan spread is 55% Democrat, 35% Republican, 11% independent.

According to exit polls, Rasmussen is predicting the partisan spread will be about what it was in West Virginia in 2008, while PPP is predicting that the electorate in 2010 will be more Democratic than it was in 2008 or 2006.

2008: 48D, 34R, 19I.

2006: 51D, 32R, 16I.

2004: 50D, 32R, 18I.

After a PPP poll of the Pennsylvania Senate race predicted a stronger Democratic electorate than usual and showed Pat Toomey falling behind, I asked PPP's Tom Jensen about the disparity in the partisan spread. He replied:

“We don’t find it particularly helpful to compare the party ID from our preelection polls to the exit polls from previous years. The ways in which those polls are administered is so different that they’re not really apples to apples. ... [W]hat we find more instructive is … we ask people to self-report how they voted for president in 2008 in all of our polls."

PPP's new West Virginia poll shows an electorate that voted 54% to 38% for McCain over Obama (8% for someone else/didn't remember). In 2008, the state voted 56% to 43% for McCain over Obama.

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