Joe Manchin leads Republican opponent in new West Virginia Senate poll

(CNN)Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin leads his Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey in the West Virginia Senate race, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.

Manchin represents a top GOP target this cycle, with West Virginia being one of five contests where Democratic senators are seeking re-election in a state President Donald Trump carried by double-digits in 2016.
The survey shows Manchin with a 48% to 39% advantage over Morrisey, the state's attorney general. Another 4% back ex-con coal baron Don Blankenship, who lost the GOP primary in May and is now trying to run as the Constitution Party candidate. His bid is in question, however, because of West Virginia's "sore loser" law.
Manchin holds a 49% to 42% lead over Morrisey without Blankenship in the race.
    The incumbent Democrat maintains a similar lead over Morrisey when Monmouth uses different models to reflect historical midterm turnout and one with a Democratic surge.
    Manchin's lead comes even as the President remains widely popular in West Virginia, with 67% of voters in the state approving of his job performance compared with 29% who disapprove.
    The Monmouth poll also finds a close race for an open seat in the state's 3rd Congressional District between Democratic state Sen. Richard Ojeda and GOP state Del. Carol Miller.
    Ojeda receives 43% support compared with 41% for Miller, although the Democrat's lead expands when looking at the historical midterm turnout and Democratic surge models.
      While Trump won the district by 50 points in 2016, Ojeda's background as a decorated Army veteran and populist platform -- including as a leading voice in this year's teachers' strike in the state -- could appeal to more voters there.
      The Monmouth University Poll was conducted June 14-19, 2018, among 653 West Virginia voters, including a sample of 428 voters in the state's 3rd District. The statewide results have a margin of error of +/- 3.8% pts. The margin of error for the WV-03 results is +/- 4.7% pts.