MARTINSBURG, W.Va. Republican U.S. Senate Patrick Morrisey walked along South Georgia Avenue just off King Street in his eastern Panhandle hometown ahead of the Apple Parade last weekend, with a broad smile and the confidence of a politician on the cusp of a close election.

His opponent, incumbent U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, is more serious as he talks for long stretches of time with residents who have been voting for him for over a decade for either governor or senate.

Manchin takes a photo with Darrin Shank; they are shaking hands with Manchin’s left arm draped over Shank’s shoulder. Both are smiling broadly. Shank tells Manchin he is a Republican.

Manchin doesn’t skip a beat; Republicans vote for him all of the time. “That doesn’t bother me none, I represent everyone,” he says with his signature warmth.

As the charismatic Democrat walks towards the Martinsburg High School float filled with high-schoolers, hay, and lots of boisterous cheers, Shank admits, despite wanting a photo with the senator and liking him, come Nov. 6, he will vote for Manchin’s Republican opponent, Morrisey.

“Yeah, he's a good guy. I mean, his politics is ... it is what it is. At least he got Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court,” said Shank of Manchin, a vote he added was that really important to him.

Curt Blickenstann says the same, but adds a caveat — switch parties and Manchin could get his vote. “Oh yeah, he'd get the support of West Virginia even more. West Virginia is a hard-working state. It's middle-class people, and that's what Trump stands for is the middle-class people,” he says of the president who won all of the state’s 55 counties and earned a whopping 67–26 percent statewide win over Hillary Clinton.

Manchin says he’s not doing that. “Why would I change — I am who I am no matter what party name is after my name, I’ve never changed,” he said.

Voters here haven’t really changed either, except they don’t vote much for Democrats anymore, even Democrats who look like Republicans in any other state but here. Why? Democrats here place faith in their platform and are pro-life and pro-gun.

So do Republicans here.

And people in both parties here don’t think all government is bad; it’s a carry-over from their New Deal roots. Some of the people voting for Morrisey don’t even know his name — they’re just voting Republican because they say they understand more of them in the Senate means less Kavanaugh-type fights for Trump.

Manchin and Morrisey come within feet of each other on South Georgia Avenue. In a twist of irony, Manchin is wearing red, Morrisey, blue.

“I feel confident about this race,” says Morrisey as he walks towards King Street where the parade is forming; he insists the race is razor-thin.

Manchin says he would just like to see a debate between the two as he jumps on the back of a vintage fire-truck with a red-white-blue “U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin” on the side. “I am West Virginia and President Trump's not on the ballot. …” he says, his voice drowned out by a Maryland High School band warming up ahead of him.

West Virginia is all over the place in the polls, with most of them showing Manchin ahead since May and one of them showing him with a substantial 16-point lead in a survey released Monday by local television station WSAZ which had Manchin over Morrisey, 52 to 36 percent.

It doesn’t feel like a 16-point race; it’s also hard to imagine Manchin will lose. But West Virginia is a tough state to pinpoint — their issues aren’t as much left or right as they are, "Are you with me or against me?"

For Morrisey to prevail, he has to bring home southern West Virginia in a big way — an area where Manchin has consistently scored outsized wins; it is still a strong culturally Democratic region that has been voting Republican for several cycles and gave Trump 50 percent of its vote.

It’s also where media darling Democrat Richard Ojeda, an outspoken state senator, Army veteran, and often-unorthodox candidate who simultaneously creates great copy and grates on the nerves of some of the poorest voters in the state, is running against the no-nonsense Republican Carol Miller, the majority whip of the state's House of Delegates.

Miller is ahead in a tight race that the Cook Political Report ranks as “Lean Republican,” which is good for Manchin; for Morrisey, it needs to be overwhelming for Miller to detect if the polls are wrong about Manchin holding his seat.

The only other thing that may or may not help Morrisey is Trump and whether he will or won’t come here for Morrisey to drag him over the line. For voters like Blickenstann and Shank, voting for someone with an R after his name is enough to reinforce their support for the president.

He’s been here before, and Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. were here in the last few days; so was Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Morrisey says Trump coming will both remind voters to support him and also help him bring him over the line; Manchin says it won’t matter.

“Like I said, he’s not on the ballot.”