In a red state that, on paper, should have provided Republicans’ easiest Senate pickup, incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin has won a second full term, defeating state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Around the time of network calls, Manchin was leading by roughly 5 to 6 percentage points.
Even though President Trump won West Virginia by about 42 percentage points in 2016, Morrisey never had the advantage over Manchin. West Virginia was, remarkably, Democrats’ easiest hold out of the numerous deep-red states they were defending this cycle.
During the primary, Republicans in the Beltway were pulling hard for another candidate, then-Rep. Evan Jenkins (who now sits on the state Supreme Court), but mostly they didn’t want Don Blankenship, the alarming ex-con coal baron, to win the nomination.
Morrisey, viewed during the primary as the ideological conservative candidate, had some glaring red flags of his own for the general. He’s from New Jersey, where he ran for Congress in 2000. From there he served as a lobbyist in D.C.—his wife is a lobbyist too—before decamping to West Virginia to run for attorney general. He’s not a particularly compelling speaker or trail presence. Whether you like Joe Manchin’s politics or not, he’s a political natural and a West Virginia guy.
The race had shown some indications of tightening in the last few weeks, prompting the main Senate Democratic super PAC, Senate Majority PAC, to spend more than 1 million dollars propping up Manchin around the end of October. By Election Day, RealClearPolitics had labeled the race a “toss-up.” But with the exception of one Republican survey in May, Manchin was never in mortal danger.