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.