POLL: Jenkins-Rahall a 4-point race


Congressman Nick Rahall is leading GOP challenger Evan Jenkins by a slim 46%-42% margin, according to a recent poll conducted by Harper Polling for the Jenkins campaign.

“These results confirm what we’re hearing throughout the district: West Virginians are ready for a change,” Jenkins said of the poll. “While there’s much work to do in the coming year, we’re starting in a strong position to win this race.”

Please see the pollster’s memo below for more details.

Interested Parties
Brock McCleary
October 21, 2013
WV-3 Key Poll Findings

Congressman Nick Rahall leads Republican challenger Evan Jenkins by a mere 4-point margin (46%-42%). Driving the competitiveness of the race is Jenkins’ popularity in the counties bordering the Ohio River, where voters know both candidates well.

The most striking finding of the survey is that Congressman Rahall’s personal favorability has clearly taken a hit.

Jenkins is within four points and has a strong geographic base

Congressman Rahall’s slim 46%-42% lead is precarious. For a challenger to be this close, this early against a 37-year incumbent is evidence of Jenkins’ viability. In the western quarter of the district, most of which Jenkins has represented in the legislature for 17 years, the challenger enjoys a 52%-39% lead and is over-performing the generic ballot in that area by double digits. Rahall won this same region by 14% in 2012; the significance of Jenkins’ lead here cannot be underestimated.

Rahall’s image is lackluster; voters are ready for a change

Rahall is seen favorably by 45%, and unfavorably by 44%. While Senator Joe Manchin remains popular (59% favorable, 34% unfavorable), Rahall has not managed to stay above water as the political environment shows signs of turning against incumbents.

Rahall’s re-elect score is underwhelming, with 35% saying he deserves re-election and 52% saying it’s time to give someone new a chance.

Obama is creating an unfavorable political environment for Democrats

President Obama remains deeply unpopular, with his job disapproval at 67%. Even a majority of Democrats disapprove of his performance.

The generic congressional ballot is tight, with 43% preferring a generic Democrat and 42% preferring a generic Republican for Congress. The U.S. Senate race provides a boost to Jenkins, as Republican Shelley Moore Capito leads Democrat Natalie Tennant by 5 points (46% to 41%) in the Third District.

The bottom line: Jenkins is well positioned to win

Despite 61% of voters identifying as Democrats and 23% identifying as Republicans (nearly identical to party registration figures), the political terrain is shifting under Congressman Rahall’s feet. Evan Jenkins’ geographic base is sign of things to come as he becomes more well known throughout the district. Rahall’s declining personal favorability is damaging his chances for re-election. If Jenkins has the financial resources to compete, he is poised to win this race.

The sample size for the survey is 649 likely voters and the margin of error is +/-3.84%. The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) automated telephone survey was conducted October 7-8, 2013 by Harper Polling on behalf of Jenkins for Congress. The total percentages for responses may not equal 100% due to rounding.