PARKERSBURG - An internal poll commissioned by Gov. Joe Manchin's U.S. Senate campaign says he's leading Republican challenger John Raese by 5 percent of likely voters.
The poll by Global Strategy Group says Manchin leads Raese 48 percent to 43 percent of likely voters with less than two weeks to go before the election.
Earlier this week, Rasmussen Reports released its weekly poll saying Raese leads Manchin by 7 percent while a Marshall University poll criticized as partisan by the Republicans said Manchin had a 10 percent lead.
"It's not a good sign when Joe Manchin has to release his own poll showing this race is a dead heat despite all of his negative ads and false accusations," said Kevin McLaughlin, Raese's campaign spokesman.
"John Raese polled 1,500 people last night at the 34th annual Bluefield Shrine Patrol Oyster dinner and the results were overwhelming," said McLaughlin, pointing out that Manchin didn't attend, but his wife, Gayle, did. "West Virginians don't want Joe Manchin in Washington rubber stamping Barack Obama's failed policies."
The numerous polls are perhaps an indication of how close the campaign is and because there's been no Republican from West Virginia in the U.S. Senate since 1958. The Republicans say Manchin would be a "rubber stamp" for President Obama while the Democrats say Raese is out of touch with West Virginians.
A lot more polls will be taken before election day, said Lara Ramsburg, a campaign spokesman for Manchin.
"They seem to be polling more frequently," she said.
Global Strategy said Manchin is favorably viewed by 69 percent of voters and unfavorably by 27 percent. Raese is favorably viewed by 44 percent.
Sixty-seven percent of Democrats support Manchin to Raese's 23 percent. Rasmussen said Raese had 32 percent support among Democrats.
The Rasmussen polls, as opposed to Global Strategy, are not live, Ramsburg said.
Global Strategy polled 804 likely voters live by telephone between Sunday and Wednesday. Three percent supported either Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson or Constitution Party candidate Jeff Becker while 7 percent were undecided. The margin of error is 3.5 percent.
Global Strategy Group has three offices in New York, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Conn.
Manchin and Raese are running for the unexpired term to the Senate caused by the death of Sen. Robert C. Byrd in June.