Incumbent Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), known for the least three years for opposing much of the Biden-Harris administration’s policy thrusts, has found himself in dire political straits going into the 2024 election. New polls released from Emerson College have found that Republican Governor Jim Justice is outstripping the ‘moderate’ Democrat by a comfortable 13% margin.
According to Emerson, 15% of registered voters would prefer a different, unnamed candidate, and 16% are undecided. The breakdown in Justice’s favor and to Manchin’s detriment is stark. Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling explained,
“Independents are breaking for Justice, 43% to 18%; however, in the matchup with Mooney, independents are split 32% to 32%.”
📊 2024 WEST VIRGINIA POLL
(R) Justice 41% (+13)
(D) Manchin 28%
(D) Manchin 37% (+6)
(R) Mooney 31%
(R) Trump 59% (+36)
(D) Biden 23%
— InteractivePolls (@IAPolls2022) October 13, 2023
Manchin has come under fire from both sides of the aisle due to his unwillingness to budge on altering the Senate rules to suit the Democrat agenda, while simultaneously concluding budget deals that continue to explode the deficit and erode Republican support.
Meanwhile, Gov. Justice has cultivated a respectable 40% approval rate in West Virginia with a mere 26% disapproval according to the poll.
Conversely, in a hypothetical matchup against Representative Alex Mooney, Manchin holds his ground, albeit barely with a slim 6% margin, 37-31%.
In the same survey, former President Donald J. Trump, who performed solidly in the state in both 2016 and 2020 currently holds an overwhelming 36-point advantage over the incumbent Democrat President Joe Biden.
Justice has notably worked to associate himself with Trump since switching from the Democratic party to Republican in 2017. This has continued through various campaign advertisements, in an exemplary Oct. 3rd post to X, he wrote, “Under President Trump, America became energy dominant for the first time. We must re-embrace an America First Energy Policy in order to grow our economy and drive down sky high energy costs.”
Under President Trump, America became energy dominant for the first time. We must re-embrace an America First Energy Policy in order to grow our economy and drive down sky high energy costs. pic.twitter.com/As61cuKDcM
— Jim Justice (@JimJusticeWV) October 3, 2023
Trump endorsed Justice in 2020, and Justice in turn endorsed him in the upcoming 2024 presidential election.
Polling commissioned by the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) in February resulted in a memo from the SLF saying “Governor Justice maintains a lead over Manchin in every media market across the state and captures fifty-eight percent (58%) of the vote among registered Independent voters, which is 18 points higher than any of the other potential Republican candidates,” according to The Hill.
“Justice also receives twenty-six percent (26%) of the vote among registered Democrats, 10 points higher than any other potential Republican candidate tested in this survey.”
The positive political news comes on the cusp of speculation regarding the governor’s personal financial situation as reported by The Washington Examiner, which reported that Justice, once the richest man in West Virginia with a $1.7 Billion personal worth is now worth anywhere from $400-$500 million and has accumulated approximately $1 Billion in debt.
Speaking with reporters Justice acknowledged his financial challenges, “You’ll see a family that has worked really, really hard. There’s no big, gigantic pots of gold sitting around,” Justice said. “Absolutely, at the end of the day, you can see that. From there, you can see a family that sometimes are a little late on a bill here and there and everything, but we pay them, don’t we?”
He added, “Boy, would it have not been an easy way out to just declare bankruptcy? Stiff a whole bunch of people, banks, lenders, vendors, and everything else, cleanse everything, and go on down the road,” he explained. “But we didn’t do that simply because of one thing: I don’t believe in it.”