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VoteCast: Health care, gun issues helped Manchin

November 7, 2018
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Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks to his supporters after being re-elected Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Charleston W.Va. (AP Photo/Tyler Evert)

Democrat Joe Manchin’s re-election to the U.S. Senate was aided by overwhelming support from West Virginia voters who ranked health care, gun policy or the environment among top issues, according to a nationwide survey of the American electorate.

AP VoteCast found that three-fourths or more of voters who said they were most concerned about one of those issues chose Manchin over Republican Patrick Morrisey.

Morrisey, a two-term state attorney general and staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, won only about a quarter of the vote among those who consider themselves independent. He won less than 1 in 10 votes among those who disapprove of Trump.

As voters cast ballots for U.S. Senate and members of Congress in Tuesday’s elections, here’s a snapshot of who voted and why in West Virginia. The results are based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, an innovative and wide-ranging survey of about 139,000 voters and nonvoters — including 2,623 voters and 834 nonvoters in West Virginia — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

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RACE FOR THE SENATE

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia turned back a challenge by Republican Patrick Morrisey to win his second full-term in a state carried by President Donald Trump. But it was the most difficult re-election challenge of Manchin’s career.

Manchin was neck and neck with Republican Patrick Morrisey among voters under 45; similarly, those ages 45 and older were divided.

Voters with a college education supported Manchin. On the other hand, voters without a college degree were divided.

En route to vicotry, Manchin heavily outspent Morrisey and portrayed himself as loyal to his home state rather than party ideology. He also was critical of Morrisey’s New Jersey roots and his past lobbying ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Manchin also made maintaining health care protections for pre-existing conditions a major focus of his campaign and chided Morrisey for joining a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

Morrisey is a two-term state attorney general and a staunch Trump supporter.

Everett Neville of Milton said he voted for Manchin because “he has worked hard for West Virginia so far, even when he was governor.” Neville also said he didn’t like the fact that Morrisey grew up in New Jersey, adding Morrisey “needs to go back to Jersey where he’s from.”

Manchin was the only Senate Democrat to vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

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TOP ISSUES

Voters considered several issues to be important to this midterm election, including the economy, immigration and health care by similar amounts of about a quarter of the voters for each. Nearly 1 in 10 cited terrorism as important, followed by the environment (1 in 10) and the environment (1 in 20).

Roger Malcomb of Alum Creek, who suffers from black lung disease, said he wants to see Congress tackle health care next year. He said the government should be responsible for making health care available to all Americans because they’ve paid taxes their entire lives for it.

“If I go for an MRI, it costs me $1,000. And my medication stuff for my lungs, everything runs about $500 a month,” Malcomb said. “I’ve got to pay that out of my own pocket. There is no such thing as health care anymore.”

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STATE OF THE ECONOMY

Voters have a positive view of the nation’s current economic outlook — two-thirds said the nation’s economy is good, compared with a third who said it is not good.

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TRUMP FACTOR

For nearly 4 in 10 West Virginia voters, Trump was not a factor they considered while casting their vote. . By comparison, about 4 in 10 said a reason for their vote was to express support for Trump, and a quarter said they voted to express opposition to Trump.

A majority of voters in West Virginia had positive views of Trump: 6 in 10 said they approve of how he is handling his job as president, while nearly 4 in 10 said they disapprove of Trump.

Retiree Larry Linch of Clarksburg called Trump “a national embarrassment.”

“Every day we wake up and turn on the news to see what stupidness he’s done that day, or is trying to do,” Linch said.

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CONTROL OF CONGRESS

Tuesday’s election determined control of Congress in the final two years of Trump’s first term in office, and more than two-thirds of West Virginia voters said which party will hold control was very important as they considered their vote. About a fifth of voters said it was somewhat important.

Republican state lawmaker Carol Miller held off a strong Democratic challenge in a district Trump dominated two years ago. Miller defeated Democratic state Sen. Richard Ojeda in the 3rd District.

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STAYING AT HOME

In West Virginia, 7 in 10 registered voters who chose not to vote in the midterm election were younger than 45. A wide share of those who did not vote — 9 in 10 — did not have a college degree. More nonvoters were Republicans (4 in 10) than Democrats (about a quarter).

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AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate in all 50 states conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. The survey of 2,623 voters and 834 nonvoters in West Virginia was conducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, concluding as polls close on Election Day. It combines interviews in English or Spanish with a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files and self-identified registered voters selected from opt-in online panels. Participants in the probability-based portion of the survey were contacted by phone and mail, and had the opportunity to take the survey by phone or online. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. All surveys are subject to multiple sources of error, including from sampling, question wording and order, and nonresponse. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at http://www.ap.org/votecast.

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For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

Associated Press Writer John Raby contributed to this report from Charleston, West Virginia.

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