Government, Latest News, West Virginia Legislature

Poll: Justice maintains big lead over Mooney in U.S. Senate race 

Gov. Jim Justice  has a big lead over Congressman Alex Mooney in the race for U.S. Senate.

Justice has support of 67% of the likely voters in the coming Republican primary election compared to Mooney’s 23%, according to the latest MetroNews West Virginia Poll. The remainder either favor some other candidate or are not sure.

That’s about the same as the prior MetroNews West Virginia Poll. The poll released April 12 showed Justice with 66% to Mooney’s 24%, so there has been very little change.

“The demographics really across the board are supportive of Jim Justice for the U.S. Senate,” said Rex Repass, president of Research America, which produces the West Virginia Poll.

“It just suggests that there is no volatility in this race. It’s very consistent with what we found in late-March, early-April, which suggests voters have made up their minds.”

The poll was built on 407 completed surveys conducted online and by telephone  April 24-May 1. Respondents were screened and qualified as registered Republicans and independents who plan to request a Republican ballot for the May 14 primary. Participants described high interest in the primary election and said they are likely to vote.

Respondents in all 55 West Virginia counties were included in the West Virginia Poll, which is sponsored by The Health Plan.

The overall confidence interval was +/- 4.9 percentage points.

Voting is already underway. The early voting period for the primary election  ends Saturday with West Virginia’s primary election  May 14.

The West Virginia Poll did not look at Democratic candidates competing in the U.S. Senate race to succeed incumbent Joe Manchin, who announced earlier this year he would not run.

Justice is a two-term governor who first won that office as a Democrat in 2016. He switched parties in 2017 at a rally for then-President Donald Trump, citing his close relationship with Trump and saying he could accomplish more as a Republican. Trump announced an endorsement for Justice several months ago.

Justice’s family owns West Virginia’s famed Greenbrier Hotel, and the family business network includes coal, timber and agriculture holdings. Justice made his early reputation as a “business guy” who could “buzz the numbers.” The businesses have been under significant and widely discussed financial pressure, but that hasn’t affected Justice’s electoral position.

Mooney was elected to Congress representing a swath of West Virginia in 2014. In 2022, he defeated fellow Congressman David McKinley in a consolidated district that includes the state’s northern counties.

Mooney had a rally last week in Jefferson County with incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The Mooney campaign has also touted the number of state legislators who have provided endorsements. Mooney’s campaign last week touted results of polling by Osage Research showing a closer race with Justice, although Mooney is still behind in that poll, 49% to 35%.

In the West Virginia Poll, Mooney’s top area of support is among very conservative likely voters.

“Mooney does best among ‘very strong conservatives’ but that’s still a 57 for Justice to 33 for Mooney,” Repass said.

“Mooney is definitely appealing to the strongest conservatives, will do better if turnout is very strong with strong conservatives, but its’s still not likely to have a major impact on the results.”

Repass concluded, “Now will it be a 40-point win? Probably not. But at this point in time it looks like it’s going to be a very strong win for Justice.”