Entering the final fortnight of the Senate races, something of a pattern has started to develop. Republicans are leading in the Real Clear Politics average of recent polling in all states that were to the right of the national average in the 2012 election (which President Obama won by 4 points), with two exceptions: Kansas, which is tied; and North Carolina, where Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan is clinging to a 2-point lead but has less than 46 percent support. These right-of-center states in which the GOP is leading include six where seats are currently held by Democrats: Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, South Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia.
In all states that were at least 3 points to the left of the national average in the 2012 election (so states where Obama won by at least 7 points), Democrats are leading. These include several contested races, such as in Minnesota (4 points to the left of the national average in 2012), Michigan (5 points), New Mexico (10), Oregon (12), Illinois (17), and New Jersey (18).
That leaves three states that were less than 3 points to the left of the national average in the 2012 election — and the president’s Obamacare-induced 42 percent approval rating has put them very much in play this time around. Indeed, Republican candidates are leading in Colorado (1 point to the left of the national average in 2012) and Iowa (2), and Scott Brown is narrowly trailing in New Hampshire (2).
Then there’s Virginia. Versus the country as a whole, Virginia is as down-the-middle as could be: Obama won reelection nationally by 3.9 points; he won in Virginia by 3.9 points. Based on 2012 (and 2008 and 2004), Virginia is to the right of Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire — and Republicans are showing they can do quite well in those races. Moreover, as Kim Strassel, Ramesh Ponnuru, and Ross Douthat have all noted in recent days, Virginia GOP Senate candidate Ed Gillespie is running an unusually (for this cycle) ideas-focused, reform-minded campaign. In particular, he’s the only GOP Senate candidate so far who has advanced a genuine alternative to Obamacare. So why have national Republican consultants and donors so overlooked this race?
Incumbent Mark Warner, who voted for Obamacare, is somewhat reeling from alleged ethical violations involving possible discussions of a federal judgeship for the daughter of a key Democratic state senator whose position was important to Democrats’ efforts to expand Obamacare in the state. Even before that accusation recently came to light, Gillespie had cut Warner’s 20-point lead essentially in half, and Warner’s support is under 50 percent. (There has been no polling since the accusation surfaced.)
Given how saturated the airwaves are in most other winnable races, Republicans who are looking for a place where they can get the most bang for their buck in the closing days of the 2014 campaign might want to cast their eyes toward the Old Dominion.
With 13 days left until the election, Virginia has the feel of the race that might end up seeming like the one that got away. So why let it get away?
Republican Shelley Moore Capito leads her Democratic opponent Natalie Tennant by 17 points, according to a new poll of the West Virginia Senate race from Rasmussen Reports. An even 50 percent say they support Capito, the congresswoman and daughter of former governor Arch Moore, while just 33 percent say they support Tennant, the secretary of state.
Republicans have distinct advantages in Senate races this year, including President Obama’s low job ratings, the number of vulnerable Democrats, and an unhappy national mood. But there’s another advantage: the generally high quality of their candidates. This wasn’t the case in 2010 and 2012, when Republicans blew chances to capture the Senate.
The next senator from West Virginia will be a woman, a first for the state. Republican congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and Democratic secretary of state Natalie Tennant are projected to win their parties' respective primaries.
Ravenswood, W.Va. "I bet this guy’s a hunter.” Shelley Moore Capito, the Republican congresswoman who gives every sign of winning her race for the Senate, points at a worker in the front row with a youthfully cherubic face underneath a camouflage cap. He looks up at her.
West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin broke with his party's leader in the Senate by refusing to attack a pair of wealthy billionaire brothers who donate to free-market causes. Asked about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's frequent attacks on Charles and David Koch, Manchin told Brian Kilmeade of Fox News Thursday morning that there's nothing wrong with what the brothers are doing.
What do Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia have in common? For one, none has a city larger than 400,000 people. For another, they all voted for John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. For yet another, they are the most likely places for Republicans to pick up Senate seats, thus taking control of the upper chamber, in 2014.
Republican House member Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia will challenge Democrat Jay Rockefeller for the U.S. Senate. At 59, Capito, who has served in the House of Representatives since 2001 and is the daughter of former West Virginia governor Arch Moore, will be facing a 75-year-old Rockefeller, who was first elected to the Senate in 1984.
Democratic senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia refused to answer a question about his position on repealing part or all of Obamacare this afternoon outside the Senate chamber. Asked by THE WEEKLY STANDARD if he supported repealing any part of the 2010 health care law, Manchin then stepped into an elevator with retiring Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who laughed as the elevator doors closed.
Alex Pappas reports that West Virginia Democrats continue to distance themselves from President Barack Obama:
In a move showing how politically toxic President Barack Obama has become in parts of the country, three prominent West Virginia Democrats announced Monday they will not attend the Democratic National Convention in September.
“We’ve had some small contributions, but the largest was, I think, maybe a hundred dollars,” says presidential candidate John Wolfe Jr., speaking to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “I’m basically paying for this myself, dipping into my retirement account.”