-Joe Manchin leads David McKinley 46-36 in a hypothetical match up for reelection in 2018. That margin is consistent with what Manchin won by against John Raese in 2010, the last time he had to run on a midterm ballot. The key to Manchin's continued strength is that he wins over more Republican voters (23%) than he loses Democrats (20%). That's a pretty impressive feat in a state where many registered Democrats rarely actually vote for the party in national elections. West Virginia's most popular politician, though, is Shelley Moore Capito. 51% of voters approve of the job she's doing to just 31% who disapprove. In addition to being popular with Republicans (64/16), she manages to almost break even with Democrats at 40/44.
Capito might be the most popular current politician in West Virginia, but the very most popular one, even 6 years after he passed away, is Robert Byrd. 64% of voters see him favorably to 19% with an unfavorable opinion and he continues to be remembered positively by both Democrats (80/9) and Republicans (47/31).
-West Virginia may be one of the most conservative states in the country, but its voters are still progressive when it comes to some issues. 84% of voters in the state support background checks on all gun purchases, to 9% who oppose them. That includes favor from 91% of Democrats, 81% of independents, and 78% of Republicans. There's also 73% support for increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, which includes 86% of Democrats, 72% of independents, and 56% of Republicans who favor that.
-Don Blankenship coming to protest Hillary Clinton this week might have been doing her a favor. He's the most hated figure in West Virginia with only 10% of voters in the state seeing him favorably, to 55% who have a negative opinion of him. 60% of voters think the prison sentence Blankenship received for his role in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion was too short to just 18% who believe it was about right, and 9% who think it was too long.
-West Virginia destroys Marshall, 69/17, when it comes to college sports loyalties in the state. West Virginia fans love Bob Huggins, giving him a 72/5 approval rating for his work as basketball coach. By contrast feelings are decidedly mixed toward football coach Dana Holgorsen, who only 38% of fans approve of to 29% who disapprove. Of course that puts him in better standing than Rich Rodriguez who continues to be viewed dimly- a 26/42 favorability rating- even almost 10 years after his departure from the school.
-When it comes to pro sports the loyalties of West Virginians lie in Pittsburgh. 35% say they're Steelers fans to 10% for the Cowboys, 8% for the Packers, 7% for the Bengals, 6% for the Redskins, and 5% for the Browns. On the baseball front 26% say they're Pirates fans to 20% for the Reds, 8% for the Yankees, and 6% each for the Orioles and Red Sox. The last time PPP polled on baseball loyalties, in 2011, the Pirates and Reds were tied but the recent run of Pirates success appears to have helped them break away.