West Virginia Republican Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsWest Virginia New Members 2019 Republican Carol Miller holds off Democrat in West Virginia House race Trump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report MORE narrowly leads state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in a new poll of the state’s GOP Senate primary race, which shows former coal executive Don Blankenship in third place.
The polling is an encouraging sign for Washington Republicans who have quietly feared that a Blankenship primary victory could threaten the party’s chances of beating Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump administration seeks to use global aid for nuclear projects Shelley Moore Capito wins Senate primary West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice wins GOP gubernatorial primary MORE (D-W.Va.) in the deep-red state thanks to Blankenship’s recent stint in jail in connection to a mine explosion. And it’s likely to give Jenkins a shot in the arm ahead of the May 8 primary, even though distance between him and Morrisey is almost within the margin of error.
The new Fox News poll found that 25 percent of likely GOP primary voters prefer Jenkins, compared to 21 percent who back Morrisey. Sixteen percent support Blankenship, while 15 percent back other candidates and 24 percent remain undecided.
The poll shows solid room for movement in the race’s final days — on top of the undecided portion, 41 percent of the sample say that it’s possible they’ll change their mind between now and the election.
Jenkins and Morrisey have been locked in a vicious battle for the nomination in recent weeks, preferring to spar amongst each other than to target Blankenship. During a debate just hours before the poll’s release, Morrisey slammed Jenkins for running a “very deceitful campaign” and lambasted him for previously identifying as a Democrat, while Jenkins labeled Morrisey as an outsider for growing up in New Jersey and for lobbying for pharmaceutical companies.
While the two men took few shots at Blankenship, the former coal CEO has faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in attacks from an outside group with links to the GOP establishment. And meanwhile, another pro-Democratic outside group is taking shots at Jenkins and Morrisey too.
The Fox News poll surveyed 985 likely primary voters between April 18 and April 22 with live landline and cellphone interviews. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.
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