PPP polled West Virginia 10/9-10/10th and found Manchin retaking the lead 48-45, just inside the MoE of +/-2.8%.
He trailed by 3 points in a PPP poll three weeks ago and his improved standing is a clear example of the biggest potential game changer nationwide for this year's election in the final three weeks- if Democratic voters wake up some of their candidates' fates could shift quite a bit.
In 2008 56& of the voters who came out for President in West Virginia were registered Democrats while 29% were registered Republicans. The poll we did in mid-September found that the folks planning to vote in this year's election were considerably more GOP leaning- only 51% Democrats and 37% Republicans. But Democratic interest has perked up quite a bit over the ensuing three weeks and the likely electorate is now composed of 55% Democrats and 33% Republicans, still slightly more GOP friendly than in 2008 but enough to put Manchin back into the lead....
Manchin's 68% approval rating on this poll is the highest PPP has measured for any politician in the country in 2010. Majorities of Democrats (80%), independents (60%), and Republicans (50%) alike are happy with the job he's doing. John Raese on the other hand has seen his favorability numbers slide over the last three weeks to the point where now just 39% of voters see him favorably and 46% have an unfavorable opinion.
Manchin's net approval is 53 points better than Raese's net favorability yet this is still only a 3 point race because the political climate remains toxic for Democrats in the state. Barack Obama's approval rating in the state is only 33%. Out of 32 states PPP has polled in this year that is Obama's worst approval anywhere.
Manchin needs to keep hammering Raese. His favorables are high enough that he needn't worry about going heavily on offense and focusing on the carpestbagging issue, which has been made much more salient with the "hicky" story. The PPP polling memo addresses that.
While Manchin has become more popular, the ad scandal may have hurt Raese already, because he has turned a 41-35 favorability rating into a 39-46 one, a negative swing of 13 points overall—22 points and 24 points with Democrats and independents, respectively.
West Virginia firefighters jump into it with this, spending "$32,000 airing this ad on cable around the state through Sunday, enough to get it pretty widely seen in West Virginia."
It's an effective ad, with real West Virginians--firefighters, no less--contrasting themselves with "Philadelphia actors" and Raese's "tax break on his Florida mansion." Expect Manchin to keep hitting those themes for the rest of the race.