NEWS & Insights

New WV Polling; CA-16 Update

For the first time since mid-November a new survey is released in the Mountain State of West Virginia, and updated numbers are available in the nation’s closest congressional primary, that in California’s 16th Congressional District lying in the heart of the Silicon Valley.

West Virginia

Emerson College, polling for WOWK-13 television station in the Charleston-Huntington market (3/19-21; 735 WV likely Republican primary voters; multiple sampling techniques), sees Gov. Jim Justice holding a commanding 54-17% lead over US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) with the West Virginia Senate primary now seven weeks away on May 14th.

The spread between the two candidates hasn’t changed since American Pulse released their November survey that posted Gov. Justice to a 55-20% advantage over Rep. Mooney. The fact that Justice’s wide lead has held for several months tells us that the Mooney campaign has made virtually no progress in attempting to change the race’s trajectory.

Now with the primary just weeks away, Mooney must make a strong move in order to make this a serious contest. The Mountain State race is critically important from a national context because not having incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D) on the ballot makes the eventual GOP nominee a heavy favorite to convert the seat in the general election and that effectively draws the Republicans even with the Senate Democrats at 50-50.

West Virginia coming through for the Republicans mean the GOP is only one more conversion seat away from wresting an outright Senate majority away from the Democrats. The other two top prospects are Montana and Ohio, where Democratic Sens. Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown for the first time face adverse political trends.

The last time the two were on the ballot was 2018, which proved to be a Democratic wave year. Before that, they were running with President Obama in 2012 as he sought a second term against GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Now, they both face an electorate that has awarded former President Trump a pair of strong wins and the data suggests he is poised to repeat his past performances.

In the open Governor’s race, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) also enjoys a GOP primary advantage according to the same poll. Mr. Morrisey holds a 33-16-14-6% advantage over businessman Chris Miller, former state Delegate Moore Capito, and Secretary of State Mac Warner, respectively. Mr. Miller is the son of US Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington), while Mr. Capito is Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-WV) son. Here, too, the eventual Republican nominee will be a virtual lock to win the general election.


A few more votes were released in the nip-and-tuck open 16th Congressional District and San Mateo County Supervisor and ex-state Senator Joe Simitian (D) saw his lead over Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) shrink from four votes to only one, 30,229 to 30,228.

The only votes remaining to be counted are the provisional ballots where election officials are determining if each is eligible to be added to the aggregate count. Over 400 were in this category at the beginning of the counting process, and there could be approximately 300 left to decide as the count moves along at a snail’s pace.

The state has 17 more days to certify all of the March 5th results. It is clear that the candidate who falls short on the initial final count in this contest will move for a recount. Therefore, the process of determining which of the two will advance into the general election could drag on for an extended period.

The eventual second place qualifier will face former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) who locked down first place with 38,464 votes or 21.1% of the jungle primary total. Should Messrs. Simitian and Low end in a flat tie, both would advance, thus leading to a three-way general election campaign. The 16th District is open because 16-term incumbent Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton) is retiring.

We offer this political insights report for your information and not as a predictor or representative of opinions of HBS or its employees.