Natalie Tennant leads WV poll of potential Democratic US Senate - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Natalie Tennant leads WV poll of potential Democratic US Senate candidates

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Even though the Democratic primary field for the upcoming U.S. Senate race hasn't quite taken shape, a new poll finds that 40 percent of potential West Virginia voters would be in support of current Secretary of State Natalie Tennant in that office.

Mark Blankenship Enterprises released the results of a poll of 406 registered voters throughout West Virginia May 1-2, 2013. MBE Research sponsored, funded and conducted the survey.

Potential U.S. Senate Race

Voters were asked if the Democratic primary election for U.S. Senate was today, who would you most likely vote for, and then were read a list of four names of potential candidates.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant received 40 percent of the responses; West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Robin Davis received 12 percent; Attorney Nick Preservati,, who reportedly has spoken with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee about running for the seat, received 1 percent; and West Virginia native, Orrick Chairman and CEO Ralph Baxter received another 1 percent; 38 percent of those polled were undecided; and 8 percent of those polled had no answer.

"Tennant polls very well among self-described liberal Democrats and across all three congressional districts," MBE CEO Mark Blankenship said in a news release.

The poll included a question about a general election ballot.

In a potential race between Davis and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who has announced she is running for U.S. Senate in 2014, Capito leads Davis by nearly 20 percent. In that scenario, 18 percent of voters are undecided.

Job Approval Ratings

In a look at how current office holders are doing, MBE found more than three in five voters, or 63 percent of those polled approve of the job U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is doing. That number is down 7 percentage points from a March 2013 MBE survey.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin received a 69 percent approval rating, a number that has not changed since the March 2013 poll. Although 17 percent of those polled were unable to rate Capito's performance, 54 percent said they approve of the job she is doing.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey received 38 percent job approval and 15 percent disapproval, but 47 percent of those polled said they were unable to rate his job performance.

"Manchin's approval rating remains solid at 63 percent, but a 7 percent decrease during the last two months is noteworthy," Blankenship said. "The question now becomes whether the decrease is the beginning of a downward trend for Sen. Manchin or a momentary dip in his numbers."

Blankenship also pointed out that Capito has never run a campaign or served in office for two-thirds of the Mountain State, so her approval rating was "impressive."

Opinions on the Issues

The recent MBE poll looked to place blame for recent reports that found West Virginia lost more jobs than most other states in the previous year.

Nearly half of voters polled – 49 percent – said President Barack Obama was to blame, and 15 percent of those polled blamed the West Virginia Legislature.

West Virginia's Congressional representatives were deemed responsible for the job losses by 10 percent of those polled, and only 3 percent named Tomblin as the reason.

"Voters have consistently prioritized job creation as an issue in the state, and nearly half believe the president is most responsible for recent job losses," Blankenship said. "Undoubtedly, voters' perception on this issue of job losses has a direct and negative impact on the president's total approval among West Virginia voters."

And Blankenship's poll found most Democratic voters in West Virginia approve of Manchin's gun control legislation, but Republicans and Independents are less likely to support it.

Manchin's proposal which would have included background checks for gun buyers in certain situations received 67 percent support from those polled, with 30 percent of those polled in opposition of it and 3 percent saying they didn't know.

The poll found 43 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Independents polled opposed the proposal.

"This is interesting because Sen. Manchin has typically enjoyed strong numbers among Republicans and Independents, and if he loses support among those two groups, his overall approval number is likely to decrease," Blankenship said.