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Latest WMOV/Triton poll shows solid leads for most statewide Republican candidates

CHARLESTON — A second independent poll in less than 20 days shows Republican Gov. Jim Justice’s support widening going into early voting and the Nov. 3 general election, with most other Republican candidates leading their Democratic opponents.

Jackson County radio station WMOV 1360 AM and Oregon-based Triton Polling and Research released the results of a new poll Friday on the races for president, governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and state treasurer.

In the latest version of the poll, Justice leads his Democratic opponent, Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango, by more than 18 percentage points. Support for Justice was 53.1 percent, Salango had 34.9 percent, Mountain Party candidate Daniel Lutz Jr. and Libertarian Party candidate Erika Kolenich each had 3.3 percent, and 5.4 percent were undecided.

“West Virginians recognize Governor Jim Justice’s strong leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and he is creating jobs, paving and fixing roads, and so much more,” said Clay Sutton, communications director for the Justice campaign.

The WMOV/Triton poll shows the race for governor widening. Their last poll, conducted at the end of September, showed Justice leading Salango 48.4 percent to 37.6 — a 10.6 percent margin. Only 6.2 percent were undecided in September.

Grant Herring, campaign manager for Salango, pointed to previous polling by MetroNews and West Virginia First that show the race far tighter.

“Other polls show Ben Salango within striking distance,” Herring said. “The early voting numbers show that there is excitement for Salango. In the home stretch, we are focusing on getting out the vote and letting voters know that there is a real choice on the ballot between public service and self-service.”

The poll numbers in the race for attorney general also remained stable and similar to the September poll results. Republican incumbent Patrick Morrisey led with 53.3 percent, Democratic challenger Sam Brown Petsonk with 41.0 percent and 5.7 undecided. September numbers had Morrisey leading Petsonk 53.4 percent to 41 percent with 5.6 undecided.

“Every poll not paid for by our opponent shows Attorney General Morrisey way out in front, due to his incredible record of protecting West Virginia jobs, generating over $410 million in settlements and savings for taxpayers, aggressively fighting the opioid epidemic, and strongly supporting covering people with preexisting conditions,” said Bryan Hood, campaign manager for Morrisey.

The WMOV/Triton numbers stand in stark contrast to internal polling released by the Petsonk campaign earlier this week. The poll, conducted by Thirty-Ninth Street Strategies with 600 interviews between Oct. 15 and Oct. 17 with a margin of error of 3.9 percent, had Morrisey leading Petsonk 49 percent to 44 percent.

“Despite Morrisey and outside groups that support him outspending Petsonk by a 3-to-1 margin, Morrisey is losing ground,” wrote pollster Marc Silverman in an Oct. 18 memo. “The political environment is also getting worse for Morrisey as the generic ballot is growing more competitive.”

In other races:

∫ In the secretary of state race, Republican incumbent Mac Warner led Democratic former secretary of state Natalie Tennant 50.9 percent to 44.5 percent — a 6.5-percent margin — with 4.5 percent undecided. The new numbers are similar to the September poll numbers, which had Warner leading Tennant 50.8 percent to 43.9 percent with 5.3 percent undecided.

∫ The one Republican statewide candidate having issues in the polls is Riley Moore, who is challenging Democratic State Treasurer John Perdue. According to the WMOV/Triton Poll, Perdue leads Moore 54.7 percent to 39.3 percent — a margin of 14.8 percent — and 6.1 percent undecided. The September poll numbers had Perdue leading Moore by 3.9 percent with 7.6 percent undecided.

The poll was conducted with 544 registered voters between Oct. 19 and Oct. 20 by automated telephone, also known as interactive voice response (IVR).

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