West Virginia Poll: Justice leads Republican primary contest for Governor

CHARLESTON, W.Va.Governor Jim Justice leads his two challengers for the 2020 Republican primary nomination by double digits among registered likely voters, according to the latest edition of the MetroNews West Virginia Poll.

West Virginia’s governor leads Republican gubernatorial candidate Woody Thrasher by a 56 percent to 21 percent margin while Mike Folk received 11 percent of the votes. Rex Repass, President of Research America Inc., reported these results today on MetroNews Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval.

“As the Republican incumbent with two primary challengers, Governor Justice has many advantages in a primary battle,” Repass said. “First, the Governor is well known and has high name ID, while his challengers are not well known. In fact, in our poll more than 50 percent said they had heard little or nothing about Woody Thrasher, and about 75 percent had heard little or nothing about Mike Folk.”

While the Governor’s approval rating is below 50 percent (42 percent in the late August 2019 MetroNews West Virginia Poll), he benefits from high name recognition among likely Republican voters, according to Repass. 

“A two candidate race would likely be more competitive. However, if the race remains as it is the two Republican challengers will need to build name ID in the run-up to the May primary, while at the same time craft a convincing narrative for undecideds and for Justice supporters to consider an alternative choice for governor,” Repass added. 

The MetroNews West Virginia Poll was conducted between Dec. 4-10 among a sample of 500 West Virginia registered voters who are likely to vote in the May 2020 primary. The overall confidence interval for the survey is +/- 4.4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. The confidence interval varies for individual questions based on how registered voters responded. 

Methodology Statement                                   

Results of this edition of MetroNews West Virginia Poll are based on interviews conducted between Dec. 4-10, 2019 with a sample of 500 West Virginia registered voters who are likely to vote in the May 2020 primary, including registered Democrats, Republicans, Libertarian, Mountain Party, and unaffiliated or independent voters. Data collection was completed online and by telephone with purchased sample of registered voters who are likely to vote in primaries.

Registered likely voters in all 55 West Virginia counties were sampled for the survey and modeled to the number of registered voters based on data from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office.  

When using sample of registered voters and hybrid data collection (online and telephone) it is not appropriate to apply a probability-based margin of error to interviews completed.  However, applying statistical tests of significance to each question asked at the 95 percent confidence interval yields an overall statistical error of +/- 4.4 percentage points based on the 500 interviews.  The 95 percent confidence interval varies by question. 

The purpose of the West Virginia Poll is to provide a snapshot of opinion and timely voter views in the Mountain State.  The media sponsor of the West Virginia Poll is MetroNews Radio Network. 

Rex Repass is director of the West Virginia Poll and president of Research America Inc. Repass is responsible for questionnaire design, the respondent screening and selection process, data tabulation, statistical analysis, and reporting of results.

The MetroNews West Virginia Poll is a non-partisan survey of public opinion conducted by Repass and Research America Inc. The West Virginia Poll has been directed by Repass and conducted periodically since January 21, 1980.  The name The West Virginia Poll is a trademark owned by Research America Inc., all rights reserved.

Respondent Profile

·       Gender [n=500]
o   Male                     48%
o   Female               52%
·       Age [n=500]
o   18-24                   7%
o   25-34                   19%
o   35-44                   20%
o   45-54                   15%
o   55-64                   19%
o   65+                                               20%
·       Region of West Virginia [n=500]
o   Northern           50%
o   Southern           50%
·       Political party affiliation [n=500]
o   Democrat         38%
o   Republican      36%
o   Independent  24% 
o   Other                      2%
·       Political Orientation [n=500]
o   Conservative  40%
o   Moderate      34%
o   Liberal       26%
·       Education [n=500]
o   High School       24%
o   Some College      42%
o   Bachelor’s        20%
o   Master’s +        14%
·       Household Income [n=500]
o   < $75K                 72%
o   > $75K                 23%             

Topline Findings

  • As you may or may not know, three candidates from the Republican Party have announced to run for Governor of West Virginia. They are Jim Justice, Woody Thrasher and Mike Folk.  If the primary election were being held TODAY and the candidates for the Republican Party nomination were Jim Justice, Woody Thrasher and Mike Folk, for whom would you vote?

56%                          Jim Justice 

21%                          Woody Thrasher

11%                          Mike Folk

12%                          Not Sure 

About Research America Inc.

Research America Inc. is a custom survey research and strategic consulting firm.  The firm’s services range from consulting with clients to identify research objectives, through study design, data collection, analysis, and research-based strategy recommendations.  For more information see www.researchamericainc.com.  

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