24 October 2008

Biden in W.Va. (Updated)

Update: The Associated Press, MetroNews, WSAZ-TV and The Charleston Gazette are among those who covered Sen. Joe Biden's downtown rally Friday.

Charleston Police Lt. Jerry Hill told AP that he estimated the crowd's size at between 2,500 and 3,000.

Preceded by a roster that included Gov. Joe Manchin and a wheelchair-reliant Sen. Robert C. Byrd, Biden spoke for about a half-hour and then spent about 20 minutes greeting those in the crowd and shaking hands.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller told those at the rally that his longtime pollster has Obama a percentage point behind McCain in West Virginia. AP has cited recent polling in the state by national firms suggesting a gap of between 6% and 12%.

MetroNews and The Gazette also have photos. The former has audio as well, and a response from the McCain-Palin campaign.

WSAZ-TV has several video clips, as does WOWK-TV, while WCHS-TV has a report.

Update II: The Logan Banner reports that when he arrived late Thursday at Yeager Airport, "Biden chatted with coal miners, but snubbed newspaper, TV and radio reporters."

Original Post: MetroNews, The Charleston Gazette and The Associated Press are among those setting the stage for Friday's visit by Democratic running mate Joe Biden to Charleston for a morning rally downtown. The former two have photos.

The appearance marks the first one open to the general public by any of the figures on the two major tickets.

"The McCain-Palin campaign plans a counter-rally earlier Friday at its nearby Charleston office," AP notes.

Election 2008: Governor

"Gov. Joe Manchin's re-election campaign has plowed more than $1.1 million into the race's closing weeks, while his Republican challenger has borrowed $10,000 to stay in the contest," The Associated Press reports.

Buoyed by a hefty balance and a continuing series of fundraising events, "Manchin had more than $901,700 on hand as of Sunday, a little more than two weeks ahead of the Nov. 4 election," the article said, while the GOP's Russ Weeks' balance "was just below $13,000."

Quote of the Week

"(N)early one in five of the survey participants continue to believe that Obama is a Muslim. Only 46.3 percent, almost the same percentage as the September survey, believe he is a Christian."

-- Memo from latest West Virginia Wesleyan poll of 600 state voters, as noted by Political Wire.

23 October 2008

Election 2008: President

Amid a flurry of recent polling (here, here and here), Barack Obama's national campaign manager spoke to West Virginia reporters Wednesday about the Democratic presidential hopeful's chances in the Mountain State.

“I would term ourselves the underdog in West Virginia,” David Plouffe said. “But our view of it is that it’s a dead heat right now.”

The Associated Press
, The Intelligencer of Wheeling, the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington, The Charleston Gazette and MetroNews (with audio) were among those in on the conference call.

AP also reports that the Obama campaign's optimism rises after West Virginians gave a record $130,300 to his campaign last month. The September haul raised his in-state total "above $483,500. That’s twice what McCain had raised from West Virginians before switching to public financing," AP reports.

AP, The Gazette and others also cite Friday's scheduled visit by running mate Joe Biden. The free 10:30 a.m. event "
will be on Summers Street between Lee and Quarrier streets, and the public entrance will be from Capitol Street via Fife Street/Brawley Walkway, beginning at 8:30 a.m.," the latter reports.

Early Voting Update

Secretary of State Betty Ireland told The Associated Press and others Wednesday that touch-screen voting machines have been re-checked and will be checked again each morning as early balloting continues.

Ireland was responding to complaints, mainly from Putnam and Jackson counties, of the devices switching votes.

But The Charleston Gazette has fielded additional complaints from Berkeley County.

The Charleston Daily Mail, meanwhile, quizzes state Republican and Democratic party leaders over the concept of same-day voter registration.

AP and MetroNews report that more than 35,000 West Virginians have already voted. The latter also has audio. AP reported earlier on the state hitting a record 1.2 million registered voters, and offers details behind that number.

Update: Public Broadcasting also covered Ireland's press conference, and has audio. The Parkersburg News focuses on early voting in Wood County.

Pair of Local Polls Show Differing Results

A pair of polls released this week from in-state interests suggest tight races on several levels in West Virginia.

Rainmaker Media surveyed 600 likely voters and found 41.67% supported John McCain for president while 41.33% supported Barack Obama, a "dead heat" as MetroNews reports.

Orion Strategies polled 600 voters for West Virginia Wesleyan College and West Virginia Media registered 49.2% for McCain, and 43.5% for Obama.

The Orion polling also checked the race for state attorney general, and found incumbent Democrat Darrell McGraw with 47.2% and Republican challenger Dan Greear with 45%.

MetroNews has items on both polls as well, and also reports on Rainmaker polling in the state Supreme Court race. It showed 25.5% for Margaret Workman, 21.17% for fellow Democrat Menis Ketchum, 21% for Republican Beth Walker and nearly 30% undecided.

The presidential results coincide with recent results from national firms (here and here).

22 October 2008

CNN/ORC: McCain 53%, Obama 41% in W.Va.

The Opinion Research Corp. survey had asked the 674 likely voters about third-party candidates Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader. When those polled were only asked about McCain v. Obama, McCain kept his 53% while Obama's support rose to 44%.

Conducted Sunday through Tuesday, the poll has a margin of error of +/- 4% and a probability of 99% for both sets of numbers (though the 53% to 41% finding is closer to 100%).

Election 2008: Roundup


  • Polling by Rasmussen Reports suggests "Governor Joe Manchin appears headed for a crushing reelection win in West Virginia." This week's survey of 500 likely voters found 71% supported the Democratic incumbent, compared to 21% for Republican challenger Russ Weeks. Manchin "leads by nearly 40 percentage points among unaffiliated voters and even picks up 38% support from GOP voters," Rasmussen reported. He also had a 74% favorability rating, compared to 37% for Weeks. Nearly a fourth of those polled had no opinion of the Republican nominee.
Supreme Court
  • Democrat Anne Barth talks to The Associated Press' Tom Breen about her challenge of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd.
  • The Journal of Martinsburg hears from state Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, and his Democratic foe, former Sen. Mike Ross.
  • A Democratic candidate for Cabell County magistrate faces charges alleging she sold crack cocaine and "tried to bribe a Huntington police officer," the Herald-Dispatch reports.

Quote of the Day

"Hello, I'm calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the US Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home, and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democrat allies lack the judgment to lead our country."

-- Alleged robo-call script that McCain-Palin and the RNC paid a Weston call center to read to voters, prompting one employee to quit and talk to The Charleston Gazette. The Associated Press and others have questioned the GOP's allegations regarding Obama's ties to Ayers.

Update: Factcheck.org reviewed the robo-call and concluded, in part, that "to say that they 'worked closely' is an exaggeration." Its analysis also found other problems with the attack.

Here's what AP has reported on the topic:
In 1995, Ayers hosted a meet-the-candidate session at his home for Obama as he prepared to run for the state Senate. Later, the two worked with the same charity and social-service organizations in Chicago.

Obama has tried to minimize his link to Ayers, at one point saying he was just a guy who lived in the same neighborhood. But while there was more to the relationship than that, there is no evidence they were ever close friends or that Ayers advised Obama on policy. Obama has denounced Ayers' violent activities, which occurred when Obama was a child.

Race, West Virginia and the Road to the White House

The Washington Post traveled to Wheeling and offers an online multimedia report about how "local Democratic leaders in this old steel town have struggled to deal with their views on race and integrate their operations with the many minorities flooding the party in support of Barack Obama."

State Auditor Glen Gainer, meanwhile, is denying comments attributed to him by The Politico during the recent pro-Obama bus tour through southern West Virginia. The Charleston Daily Mail reports that Gainer suggests the remarks about racism in Logan County were uttered by someone else, while Politico stands by its story.

Update: MetroNews spoke to bus tour participants and offers audio from one, UMWA President Cecil Roberts. MetroNews also heard from a deputy director of the RNC who predicts a John McCain win in West Virginia. With audio.

Voting Concerns Persist in W.Va.

The Intelligencer of Wheeling talks to an Ohio County voter who reports trouble casting her ballot on a touch-screen machine there.

The Charleston Gazette
, meanwhile, follows up with state election officials regarding their efforts to ensure the machines count votes correctly. Public Broadcasting also reports on the recent allegations of machines switching votes. With audio.

21 October 2008

Rasmussen: McCain 52%, Obama 43% in W.Va.

Rasmussen Reports surveyed 500 likely voters on Monday. Another 4% were undecided.

The margin of error was +/- 4.5%. The probability was 98.09%.

Among the highlights:

  • "McCain holds a dominant lead among unaffiliated voters in West Virginia, 57% to 36%."
  • "He also leads 55% to 42% among men and 49% to 43% among women."
  • "McCain is viewed favorably by 60% of West Virginia voters and unfavorably by 38%."
  • "Obama’s numbers are 47% favorable, 51% unfavorable"
  • President Bush's disapproval rating was 70%.

Election 2008: Shorts

  • The Associated Press' Tom Breen talks to U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., about his campaign for a fifth term.
  • The GOP candidate for agriculture commissioner, Mike Teets, plans to visit all 55 counties between Tuesday and Nov. 4 in his bid to unseat Democrat Gus Douglass, AP reports.
  • The Charleston Gazette hears from Putnam County voters who say touch-screen machines switched their votes from Democrat to Republican. But Secretary of State Betty Ireland tells AP and MetroNews that this type of voting machine has been repeatedly tested, and that its maker is checking out the complaints.

Election 2008: Governor

  • The libertarian Cato Institute ranks Manchin among only three governors, and the only Democrat, deserving of an "A" for fiscal policy. As The Associated Press reports, Cato says Manchin "has enacted probably the most pro-growth tax reforms of any governor." The Charleston Gazette also has an item.
  • The Beckley paper also hears from gubernatorial write-in candidate Butch Paugh of the Constitution Party.

Registered Voters in W.Va. at All-Time High

A record 1.2 million West Virginians are registered to vote in the general election, the secretary of state reports.

As The Associated Press notes, the last high was 1.17 million voters in 1952, when the state's population peaked at about 2 million. It now has about 1.8 million people.

Both AP and the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington note the influx of unaffiliated voters. "Other" voters now account for 15 percent of the state's total.

"Democrats remain the majority, with more than 675,300. They outnumber Republicans by just under two-to-one," AP notes.

19 October 2008

Mason-Dixon: McCain 47%, Obama 41% in W.Va.

Mason-Dixon conducted the poll for NBC, and surveyed 625 likely state voters Oct. 16-17.

The numbers suggest 12% were undecided or chose other candidates. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4%, and a probability of 94.55%.

Update: "
Well, scratch West Virginia from the swing state list for the time being," opines FiveThirtyEight.com upon assessing this and the coincidental PPP poll.

By no means is the state totally unwinnable for Obama," the statistical analysis site offers, "but in all probability, it is pretty far from the tipping point."

Election 2008: Governor

Gov. Joe Manchin, Republican Russ Weeks and Mountain Party nominee Jesse Johnson square off Sunday for the latest debate in the gubernatorial race, this one hosted by The Associated Press and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

The latter will air the debate at 7 p.m. Sunday, and again at 9 p.m. Monday.

Update: AP has a report from the half-hour exchange.

AP recently profiled the three candidates, finding they have "several views in common, but are miles apart on others - including mountaintop removal, abortion, the death penalty and the leadership of the current administration."

Manchin also spoke to the editorial board of the Bluefield Daily-Telegraph about his record and his bid for a second term.

PPP: McCain 50%, Obama 42% in W.Va.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,223 likely voters Thursday and Friday, yielding a margin of error of +/- 2.8%. Undecideds were 8%. The probability is 99.83%.

Among the highlights:

  • "Right now in almost every battleground state more than 60% of the electorate lists the economy as its top issue, something that very much plays to the Democrats’ advantage. But only 54% do in West Virginia, with moral and family values placing second at 15%, a much higher share than it is pulling anywhere else.
  • "McCain’s advantage with those values voters? 87-7."
  • Obama "leads McCain with voters in his own party just 62-29, at the same time that McCain is nailing down 85% of the Republican vote. McCain also has a strong advantage with independents, 53-36."
  • Obama "is actually faring worse with older voters in the state than John Kerry did in 2004. Among those surveyed, 45% said they supported Kerry but only 41% say they support Obama."
The firm concluded that "Contrary to other recent polls that have found West Virginia too close to call," McCain "is likely to repeat the success George W. Bush had in the state in 2000 and 2004.”

The firm relies on automatic phone calls. "Other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify," the polling memo notes.

The memo includes each question as asked and response rates.

Biden Coming to W.Va.

Barack Obama's campaign tells The Associated Press that running mate Joe Biden will campaign Friday in Charleston "to talk about the economy."

AP notes that Biden's planned appearance offers "the latest sign of Obama stepping up efforts in the Mountain State since polling suggested a close race with Republican John McCain."

The belief that West Virginia is in play likely prompted The Politico to accompany state Democratic leaders Saturday "on a winding, eight-county bus tour through the south of the state, " where "in one small mining town after another, they sold Barack Obama to small crowds of Democrats with remarkable directness."

The Charleston Gazette also covered the weekend coalfields trek. MetroNews, meanwhile, reports that "the NRA began advertising statewide against Democrat Barack Obama Saturday."

Update: A new poll puts McCain 8 percentage points ahead of Obama in West Virginia.

Update II: National Public Radio was also in Logan County.