CHARLESTON — Senator Joe Manchin has a big decision to make about Brett Kavanaugh, the nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sixty-two percent of likely voters in West Virginia want Manchin to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, according to the latest results from the MetroNews Dominion Post West Virginia Poll.
Thirty-eight percent say no, that Manchin should not vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“Obviously there’s strong support for another conservative on the U.S. Supreme Court among likely voters in West Virginia,” said professional pollster Rex Repass, author of the West Virginia Poll.
He said the support remained strong even among different political persuasions in the poll.
“As one would expect you see 82 percent support among Republicans but even 41 percent among Democrats. Independents also support Senator Manchin voting for Kavanaugh in the Senate,” Repass said.
The West Virginia Poll surveyed 404 likely, registered voters from all 55 counties. The survey was conducted between Aug.16-26. The confidence interval is +/- 4.9 percentage points.
The confirmation issue has been one of the central themes of this election cycle. Manchin is in a competitive race for U.S. Senate against Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican.
Morrisey has said he supports President Donald Trump’s nominee and has pushed for Manchin to vote for confirmation. Trump is very popular in West Virginia.
Manchin, a Democrat, is considered a potential swing vote on the Kavanaugh confirmation. The Senate has a thin Republican majority.
“It’s an election year. This is an issue that people are talking about. It’s certainly covered thoroughly in the national media and Joe Manchin is a potential Democratic vote for Brett Kavanaugh,” Repass said.
“I’m sure Senator Manchin is going to vote his conscience here, but likely voters in West Virginia support that nomination.”
In late July, Manchin was the first Democrat to meet with Kavanaugh, saying afterward that the two-hour meeting was “very productive.” He took no public position, though.
In early July, Manchin said he would give the nomination significant consideration.
“As the Senator from West Virginia, I have a constitutional obligation to advise and consent on a nominee to fill Supreme Court vacancies and I take that responsibility seriously,” Manchin stated then.
“Just as I did when Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch were nominated, I will evaluate Judge Kavanaugh’s record, legal qualifications, judicial philosophy and particularly, his views on healthcare.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to have Kavanaugh on the bench by Oct. 1.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee argued that they didn’t have enough access to the records of his public life. They expressed concerns about how his nomination would tilt the court on rulings about issues such as abortion, gun control and presidential power.
Similar divides have arisen in West Virginia, where many are watching how Manchin will vote.
“We are talking to progressive people in our circles to reach out to Senator Manchin and tell him what they think,” Gary Zuckett, executive director of West Virginia Citizen Action Group, said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
“In the end, Senator Manchin’s vote could be a swing vote. Unless we really do what we can to oppose this what we feel is a really extreme, right wing nomination we wouldn’t be doing our job.”
Zuckett agreed that Manchin is in a tough spot, politically.
“Whatever he does, the other side is going to beat him up. It doesn’t seem like he’s getting much traction with Republicans, with the president coming here and telling people to vote for his opponent, so I don’t see why Manchin would want to kowtow to the Republican agenda on this nomination.”
Two of the top Republicans in the state Legislature, Senate President Mitch Carmichael and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, made a united public statement on behalf of Kavanaugh last week.
“Why the delay and the constant hand-wringing over whether Senator Manchin is going to vote to confirm him?” said Carmichael, R-Jackson.
“Just say you’re going to vote to confirm what is a world-class nominee nominated by a president this state overwhelmingly supports and get it over with.”