Why Republicans shouldn’t be spoiling for a fight in West Virginia

Rasmussen polls the possible special election to replace Sen. Robert Byrd in West Virginia and finds Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin with a 14-point advantage over Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito in a potential November matchup.

That gap is even more notable given President Obama’s 35 percent job approval in the coal-fired state.

Capito could no doubt make it closer if she were campaigning in earnest, as Manchin has already begun doing. But a win looks unlikely.

If Capito runs, it has big down-ballot implications, too.

Capito is the only Republican in the state’s congressional delegation. If she runs, Democrats have a chance to reclaim the seat she wrested from them in 2000. And worse for the GOP, vulnerable incumbent Rep. Nick Joe Rahall and state Sen. Mike Oliverio, a Manchin ally who knocked off fellow Democrat Rep. Alan Mollohan in a primary shocker, would be helped by having a well-funded, well-liked Democrat at the top of the ticket.

Republican House candidates David McKinley, running against Oliverio, and Spike Maynard, running against Rahall, should be hoping that Capito seeks another term in the House and leaves Manchin to run a coronation race.

A failed Capito Senate bid could mean a Democratic federal sweep in the best GOP season the state has seen since Herbert Hoover.

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