CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's run for U.S. Senate could be a tight one if Secretary of State Natalie Tennant were to enter the race, according to the latest edition of the West Virginia Poll.
The phone survey, conducted earlier this month, found 45 percent of respondents said they would pick Capito, R-W.Va., to replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
Forty percent said they would choose Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat. Fifteen percent weren't sure.
Tennant has not announced her candidacy for Senate, but rumors have swirled for months that she will run.
The West Virginia Poll is a non-partisan study conducted for the Daily Mail by R.L. Repass and Partners. This most recent edition was conducted Aug. 15-22, sampling 400 voting-age West Virginia residents. It has a 4.9 percent margin of error.
While results show Capito has a 5-point lead over Tennant, the margin of error makes the race a dead heat.
"But the campaign hasn't started," said Rex Repass, principal owner of R.L. Repass and Partners. "It's very early."
Repass said Tennant's popularity in the poll likely comes from name recognition. Tennant has run for statewide office three times, successfully running for Secretary of State in 2008 and 2012, as well as her unsuccessful bid in the 2011 special Democrat primary for governor.
Rob Cornelius, political operative and former spokesman for the West Virginia Young Republicans, said Tennat's poll numbers are high because "no matter what anyone thinks about what she's doing as Secretary of State, she doesn't have to put a flag down on an issue positive or negative."