-Earl Ray Tomblin's victory in the West Virginia Governor's race seemed to bode pretty well for Joe Manchin's reelection prospects next year, and his poll numbers confirm that. Manchin has a 61% approval rating with only 23% of voters disapproving of him. That ranks Manchin as the 5th most popular Senator out of 87 currently in office that PPP has polled on. In a head to head with Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, quite popular herself with a 53/28 favorability spread, Manchin leads 49-38. And although Bill Maloney may have come awfully close to winning the Governor's race this year he would be no match for Manchin- he trails 60-29 in a hypothetical Senate contest.
-2012's not looking great for West Virginia Republicans on the picking up a Senate seat front but 2014 might provide more promise. Jay Rockefeller's approval rating is 47/41, ok numbers but unimpressive compared to Manchin. And he would trail in a potential bout with Capito by a 48-44 margin. Rockefeller does worse against Capito than Manchin does across the board but the disparity is particularly large with GOP voters- they support Capito by only a 43 point margin over Manchin (64-21), but would give her a 68 point advantage over Rockefeller (80-12). Rockefeller and Manchin are pretty similarly popular with Democrats but when it comes to independents/Republicans the disparity is wide.
-West Virginians want their Mountaineers to go to a different conference- there's just not much agreement on what that new conference would be. 32% want to stay in the Big East with 36% supporting a move and 32% holding no opinion. But within that 36% that wants to go 13% want to head to the ACC, 12% to the SEC, 9% to the Big 10, and 2% to the Big 12. Not a lot of agreement there.
-Last month I declared on Twitter that we had found the most unpopular man in West Virginia and asked people to guess who- the most common response was former Mountaineer football coach Rich Rodriguez. We were actually talking about Don Blankenship but we decided to test Rich Rod on this poll and lo and behold he is deserving of 'least popular' designation. Only 15% of voters in the state have a positive opinion of him to 56% with a negative one. That -41 spread is worse than the -31 spread Blankenship had at 13/44. (Full disclosure, I'm from Ann Arbor and I hate Rich Rod's guts for what he did to our football program, but we always play it straight with our numbers.)
-And finally out of staters never really seem sure whether to call West Virginia a southern state or not and the truth is West Virginians themselves don't really know either. 45% of people in the state consider themselves southerners, while 55% do not. That's a pretty close division. There aren't any real obvious political divides in who considers themselves southern and who doesn't- 56% of Republicans don't identify as southern, almost identical to the 55% of Democrats who don't.
Full results here