Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Joe Manchin and Robert Byrd's Legacy

As far as I can tell from perusing his YouTube account, Joe Manchin has aired only two ads in the West Virginia Senate race so far, and both are negative pieces that take John Raese head-on. Neither mentions that Manchin himself has called this election when normally one wouldn’t have been scheduled because of the death of the beloved Robert Byrd, the longest-serving Senator in history.

68% of likely voters in this fall’s election approve of the work Byrd did in the Senate, and 52% want his successor—Manchin or Raese—to continue his legacy. Right now, the problem for Manchin is that, despite him being incredibly popular as governor, Raese seems to be successfully framing the race as one between himself, a conservative, and an Obama Democrat, Manchin, at a time and in a state where Obama and the national Democrats are persona non grata. If voters see Manchin as a Washington liberal, he loses. If they see him as a conservative, populist Byrd Democrat, he wins.

Right now, Manchin is earning only 59% of the Byrd approvers, with Raese at 30%. But he gets 74% of those who want Byrd's work to go on. If by airing laudatory Byrd ads and tying his own campaign to Byrd’s legendary work for his constituents Manchin pulls that 59% to 70% of Byrd approvers, he would have a majority of the vote. He can do this just by persuading the undecideds among Byrd approvers and not even changing Raese voters’ minds. The undecideds in the race break similarly to the overall electorate--72% approve of Byrd's service, and 51% want the next senator to keep it up.

Ours was the first and, so far, only poll to show Raese on top, and it’s well within the margin of error. This could be one of those nail-biters on Election Night, but Manchin can keep this seat on Byrd’s side of the aisle if he reminds voters of the man he is vying to replace, the man they would still clearly like representing them in the upper chamber of Congress.

Full results here.

8 comments:

Chuck T said...

Good idea and I'll bet you the Manchin campaign will begin to do this.

DBL said...

Manchin has a +25% approval rating, unheard of this year. He's losing to a guy 24% of voters have no opinion of. This is a really bad poll for the Democrats, because it's one of the few McCain did better than Bush. I doubt he can raise his approval ratings.

I think Patty Murray, Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, Dick Blumenthal, and others can gain poll points between now and election day because their states have so many Democrats.

Democrats have a 14% likely voter advantage. If any of the above got anywhere near that they'd win in a walk. Most would beg for half that. It's possible that turning out more Democrats here might turn out more Raese voters. This race that is going to go more Republican as we get closer to election day. I don't know of any other race that you can book that, but I'm certain it will here.

wt said...

Easier to say you will continue Byrd's legacy than to be specific about it.

Byrd's legacy is massive amounts of appropriations for the state. So this might be a bad year to be the guy talking about how much you love pork.

Anonymous said...

Are you the same guy who orchestrated the Paul Wellstone Pep Rally funeral?

How did that work out?

Anonymous said...

Are you the same guy who ran Martha Coakley's campaign hugging the corpse of Teddy Kennedy?

How did that work out?

Zornorph said...

I think Manchin has gotten behind events, here. Raese has been running a surprisingly great campaign and is probably well on his way toward defining Manchin as a 'rubber stamp' if he goes to Washington. After all, the replacement senator he picked has cast a party line vote in every case. I almost wonder if it would be worth him resigning as Gov to go 'all in'?

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Good idea and I'll bet you the Manchin campaign will begin to do this."

I'll collect my consulting fee from them after the election.

"Byrd's legacy is massive amounts of appropriations for the state. So this might be a bad year to be the guy talking about how much you love pork."

That's true, and I thought about that when I was writing this, but I don't necessarily think you have to be specific. Ads aren't usually sophisticated, because honestly, most voters aren't. They're designed to give voters visual and psychological cues that resonate in a short amount of time, so they're best kept simple and blunt.

"It's possible that turning out more Democrats here might turn out more Raese voters."

The goal isn't to turn out more voters but to frame Manchin's candidacy so that voters think of him as Byrd's logical successor. But certainly if Manchin's ground operation (whatever that consists of) can squeeze every possible voter out of the few blue counties, it can only help.

Anonymous said...

The whole poll is pretty colored...Second question was the up/down on Obama's health care bill - which they hate in WV - and which nationalizes the voters' minds. Try leading with a question about support for Manchin's coal mining safety initiatives and see how things change. It's straight from Yes, Minister...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yhN1IDLQjo

 
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