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Capito leads Senate challengers in recent poll

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who intends to run for U.S. Senate in 2014, holds strong leads against several potential Democratic challengers more than one year ahead of the primaries, according to results from a new GOP polling firm.

Capito holds an 18-point lead over Rep. Nick Rahall, a 25-point lead over former U.S. Sen. Carte Goodwin and a 26-point lead over state Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis in hypothetical match-ups.

Harper Polling, a GOP-leaning national polling firm started to counter current Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling, conducted the poll.

Harper Polling surveyed 1,444 likely voters spread evenly throughout the state's three congressional districts through automated poll sampling techniques. The poll's margin of error is  2.58 percent.

In head-to-head match-ups, Capito leads Rahall by a 50-to-32 percent margin; 18 percent of respondents were undecided.

She leads Goodwin — who served a four-month term in the Senate following the death of former U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd in 2010 — by 53 to 19 percent, with the remaining 28 percent undecided.

Capito's margin over Davis is 51 to 24 percent, with 25 percent of respondents undecided.

"Rahall is clearly the Democrats' best hope against Capito," the Harper Polling analysis said. "However, there are few places where you would see numbers like these. One member of Congress holding a substantial lead over another member at the outset of a statewide campaign."

Across congressional districts, Capito leads Rahall 61 to 27 percent in her home district. However, she also holds a narrow 46 to 45 lead over Rahall on his home turf in the 3rd Congressional District.

That result is within the poll's margin of error.

The poll was taken after Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., announced he would not seek another term for U.S. Senate. Capito had already announced her candidacy for Rockefeller's seat following last November's election.

West Virginia hasn't had a Republican senator since William Chapman Revercomb lost his re-election bid to 40-year-old Democratic upstart Robert C. Byrd in 1958.

Rahall has not committed to entering the race, and several other candidates are also said to be mulling runs in next year's Democratic primary.

While early, the poll shows a significant uphill challenge for any candidate choosing to run.

The poll found Capito holds a 55 percent favorable rating among state voters. No other Democratic challenger had a favorability rating greater than 50 percent.

Among other results, the poll found West Virginians hold a mostly negative view of President Barack Obama. Only 34 percent of state residents approve of Obama's job performance while 59 percent disapprove.

Current Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., drew a 57 percent favorable rating in the poll. About 36 percent of those surveyed said they had an unfavorable view of the former governor.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at or 304-348-5148.


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