Trump, Sanders lead in West Virginia

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s new West Virginia poll finds it’s likely to just keep Donald Trump’s recent streak of dominant victories right on going. Trump leads in the state with 61% to 22% for Ted Cruz and 14% for John Kasich. Trump, with a 67/24 favorability rating, is the only candidate GOP voters in the state even like. Both Kasich (32/50) and Cruz (32/53) come in with negative favorability ratings.

Adding Carly Fiorina to the ticket has done little to help Cruz. Only 12% of voters say picking her as his running mate makes them more likely to vote for Cruz, compared to 31% who say it makes them less likely to vote for Cruz and 54% who say they just don’t care one way or another. Fiorina’s 40/32 favorability rating with Republican primary voters does at least make her more popular than Cruz himself.

Trump is winning every subgroup of the Republican electorate, but a few things stand out. He’s getting 70% among the independents planning to vote in the GOP primary, to 20% for Cruz and just 9% for Kasich. Trump also has by far and away the most committed support- 87% of his voters say they will definitely cast their ballots for him next Tuesday, compared to only 67% of Cruz’s voters and 45% of Kasich’s voters who say the same about their candidates. The race is tighter among ‘very conservative’ voters, with Trump getting 51% to Cruz’s 38% but among both moderates and ‘somewhat conservative’ voters, Trump’s advantage is up over 50 points.

On the Democratic side Bernie Sanders is leading with 45% to 37% for Hillary Clinton. The 18% of voters who are undecided is unusually high and speaks to the number of registered Democrats in West Virginia who don’t really identify with the national party at this point. Among the undecideds Sanders has a 15/77 favorability rating and Clinton’s even worse off at 12/84 so there may end up being a decent mass of voters who just don’t vote for either of the candidates.

West Virginia’s the latest of open primary states or semi open primary states where we find Clinton ahead with Democrats (43/41) but losing overall because she’s getting swamped with independents (56/19). Clinton is actually ahead 52/41 with liberals, but Sanders has the cumulative edge because he’s up 55/31 with moderates and 36/19 with conservatives who in West Virginia are 22% of the primary electorate. One thing Clinton does have going for her in West Virginia is that 79% of her voters are firmly committed to her, compared to 65% of Sanders’ who say the same. If she can peel off some of those weak Sanders supporters in the next week she still has a chance to take the state.

General election match ups for President in West Virginia are mostly not competitive. As bad as Trump’s favorability numbers are nationally, in West Virginia he comes out narrowly on positive ground at 47/45 and he leads Clinton 57/30 and Sanders 56/35 in head to heads. Kasich leads Clinton 52/27 and Sanders 48/31 as well. The numbers for Cruz are a little bit interesting though- even in this state that’s become very reliably Republican at the Presidential level, he has just a 21/64 favorability rating. There are more voters in West Virginia who like Sanders (30%) and even Clinton (23%) than there are who like Cruz. Cruz leads Clinton 44/31, but against Sanders he’s ahead just 40/39. Cruz would win the state, but the numbers there still speak to how toxic he’s become.

Jim Justice is the early favorite in the Governor’s race, both for the Democratic primary and the general election. 37% of primary voters support Justice to 23% for Booth Goodwin and 19% for Jeff Kessler, with 21% of voters still undecided a week out from the election. Justice also leads Bill Cole 41-35 for the general election, making him the only one of the Democratic hopefuls who would start out with an advantage for the general. Goodwin trails Cole 39/33 at this point, and Kessler has a 40/30 deficit at this stage.

Full results here


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