Incumbent West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who has come under fire from President Donald Trump in recent weeks, is facing his "toughest test" yet considering the competition he has going into the midterm election and the president's popularity in the Mountain State, political analyst Larry Sabato said Monday.
"No state in the country has changed more than West Virginia," Sabato, the founder and director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, told Fox News' "Fox & Friends." "In 1988, they voted Democratic in the presidential election by 12 percentage points. They voted for Donald Trump by 42 percentage points. No state has moved further and that was Trump's best state."
Manchin has been winning because his state, at one time, was heavily Democratic and he's well known, said Sabato.
"This is his toughest test ever," said Sabato. "He is a fighter. He is a scrapper. He's a survivor. But he is going to have to prove that all over again in November."
The top three Republicans looking to replace Manchin are Rep. Both Jenkins, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, and former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.
Jenkins and Morrisey were present during a recent roundtable held by Trump in West Virginia, but Blankenship was not. Sabato pointed out that Blankenship has served time in prison for his role in the deadly 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine explosion, which claimed 29 lives.
Of the three, Republicans consider Jenkins the frontrunner, but can also see Morrisey winning, said Sabato. However, if Blankenship wins the nomination, Sabato said sources have told him they won't spend as much money this fall trying to help him defeat Manchin.
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