Republican Governor Jim Justice has dramatically pulled ahead of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in a recent poll for the 2024 West Virginia Senate race, reclaiming his deep-red state’s support ahead of the election.
The latest ECU Poll shows Justice enjoying a sizable 22-point lead over Manchin, 54 percent to 32 percent, among registered voters in the state. This hole for Manchin deepens as a nearly three-fifths majority of West Virginians express job approval of Justice, with a net positive rating of +28 percentage points; 57 percent approval to 29 percent disapproval.
It’s a much different picture for Manchin, who has seen his job approval rating plummet to 33 percent and an overall net negative rating of -26 percentage points; 33 percent approval to 59 percent disapproval. Adding to Manchin's problems is that he is seemingly unable to shake the “Democrat” label, as only slightly more than half of self-identified Democrats in West Virginia approve of Manchin's job performance.
Manchin is in the midst of a hectic effort to fix his dicey reputation among West Virginia voters, most recently making headlines with his campaign to derail President Joe Biden’s nominees. Through a bevy of desperate measures, Manchin has been trying to disassociate himself from both his party and the president.
The Trump-supporting Justice appears to have taken advantage of Manchin’s ill-advised independence attempts, as evidenced in a ballot matchup that offers up an ambitious 54 percent support for Justice compared to Manchin’s dismal 32 percent backing.
President Donald Trump has been a vocal supporter of Justice since he announced his party switch in 2017, standing by his side during the occasion. Trump carried West Virginia handily in both 2016 and 2020 and this poll shows he’d easily win the 2024 GOP primary over all other contenders.
Though Manchin hopes to hold onto his seat through 2024, some have suggested he’s eyeing a presidential run, despite his comparatively low favorability among his own constituents.
There is still roughly three years' worth of time until West Virginia residents cast their ballots, laying out the potential groundwork for either Manchin or Justice to build or lose support. However, Manchin’s alliance with Biden and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over the Inflation Reduction Act has damaged his public standing, possibly beyond repair.
It remains to be seen if Manchin will call it quits come 2024 or if Justice will continue to gather voters ahead of their potentially momentous Senate race. As West Virginians continue to keep an eye on this hypothetically heated battle for the seat, Manchin will remain in the hot seat as he watches his campaign take big hits in negative polling.