Rasmussen Poll: WV Dem Gov. Joe Manchin Leads For Byrd’s Senate Seat

The new Rasmussen poll of West Virginia finds that Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin starts out as a decently strong frontrunner in a potential special Senate election this fall, which has become a likely scenario in the process to replace the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd.

Manchin leads Republican Rep. Shelly Moore Capito by 53%-39%, and leads former West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland by 65%-26%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error.

West Virginia appears to be on track to hold a special election this November, with Manchin likely appointing an interim Senator who will not seek a full term. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) announced last week that there would not be an election, but instead a gubernatorial appointment to last through November 2012, based on the state’s confusing statute on the subject. However, Tennant herself stated her disagreement with this outcome and called for the law to be changed, and Manchin obtained a legal opinion from state Attorney General Darrell McGraw (D) that allowed an election to go forward this year. Manchin has ruled out appointing himself, but has appeared to be very open to running in the election.