Assuring a majority in the Senate for Brett Kavanaugh's nomination may have assured a majority in West Virginia for Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. A new poll, conducted after Manchin's "Yea" vote on Kavanaugh, shows the incumbent has expanded his lead.
A survey of 650 likely voters by local television station WSAZ has Manchin beating state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, 52 to 36 percent. The lead of 16 percentage points is the largest so far.
"I think what we're seeing follows from his decision to vote to confirm Kavanaugh," pollster James Henson told local press.
Manchin is the only Democrat to split with party brass not once, but twice, on Supreme Court nominations. He voted for Kavanaugh, and before that, he voted for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. Running in a state that Trump carried by double digits, Manchin has pinned his chances for survival on these two acts of rebellion against Democratic brass.
While Morrisey hasn’t led since May (Manchin enjoys a significant 12-point lead according to the RealClearPolitics average), the Republican has something the Democrat doesn’t — the first family.
During a June interview, Morrisey told me he wouldn’t mind if the Trump family bought a vacation home in the state. They have visited West Virginia so often that might not have been a bad investment. Trump has visited West Virginia five different times, and sent his own family to stump for the Republican.
As recently as Monday, Donald Trump Jr. and former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle rallied alongside Morrisey. The candidate can’t get enough.
“We want the president to come back here. This president’s been a difference-maker in this race. We’re in a good position to close,” Morrisey told POLITICO in an interview after his rally with the president’s son. “We think the president’s going to come back.”
Those visits haven’t moved the needle just yet. And for now, it seems Manchin’s support of Kavanaugh saved his seat. Then again, doubting the power of Trump populism is always dangerous — especially in a place like West Virginia.