While polls are now beginning to show some distance between Senate candidates in several states, perhaps the biggest bombshell is the continued strong performance by West Virginia Republican John Raese (pronounced Ray-cee). Running against one of the most popular Governors in the nation in the bid to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D), Raese, who has failed in previous statewide runs, has been surprisingly tenacious in the 2010 special election campaign. According to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll (10/5; 500 likely WV voters), the GOP challenger has now taken the lead over Gov. Joe Manchin. By a count of 50-44%, a spread beyond the margin of error, the Republican has a measurable advantage over the Democratic chief executive. This is largely due to Raese’s strong opposition to the Cap & Trade issue, which has devastating effects on the coal economy, and his linkage of Manchin to the Obama Administration and federal Democratic politics.
With what now appears to be a sure GOP loss in Delaware, a state they were counting on to make an improbable run for the majority, West Virginia could take its place in the national Republican formula. Democrats are still the favorites to retain control, and the GOP would need a perfect election night to gain the ten seats they need to overturn the Senate, but West Virginia may be one state that very well comes through for them on November 2nd.