PARKERSBURG - Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is favored over other potential candidates in theoretical contests for the U.S. Senate in 2014, according to a public opinion poll by Harper Polling.
Capito, a Republican from the 2nd Congressional District, last month said she would run for the Senate, ending months of speculation. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., also announced he would not run for re-election.
Among Democrats, Capito's nearest competitor is Rep. Nick Rahall, D-3rd, and leads the Democrat 50.47 percent to 31.59 of respondents in the survey taken after Rockefeller announced. About 18 percent said they were unsure, the poll said.
Former Sen. Carte Goodwin, who served in the interim after Robert C. Byrd died in 2010, lags behind Capito 53.32 to 19.17 percent. Uncertains tallied 27.51 percent.
The Republican-leaning Harper Polling surveyed 1,444 likely voters across the state evenly spread in the three congressional districts. The margin of error is 2.58 percent.
The automated poll was taken Monday night, Brock McCleary, a spokesman for Harper Polling, said.
Against Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis, a Democrat, Capito leads the judge 51 to 24 percent. Twenty-five percent are undecided, the poll said.
"Rahall is clearly the Democrats' best hope against Capito," Harper Polling said. "However, there are few places where you would see numbers like these. One member of Congress holding a substantial lead over another member at the outset of a statewide campaign."
While Rahall appears the Democrats best bet against Capito, in the 3rd District she has only a 46 percent to 45 percent lead over Rahall. In the 2nd District, however, Capito is ahead of Rahall 61 to 27.
Across the state, Capito has a 55 percent favorable rating among state voters. Goodwin was at 50 percent.
President Obama's job performance received a 58.67 percent disapproval rating. Sen. Joe Manchin received a 57 percent favorable rating.
Among Republicans, the poll shows Capito would dust Rep. David McKinley, R-1st. Capito leads the second-term McKinley 70.5 percent to 14.75 percent.
Against Attorney General Pat Morrisey, a Republican who beat Democrat strongman Darrell McGraw, Capito has a favorable rating of 72.94 percent to 9.52 percent for Morrisey.
Several press reports in recent weeks said McKinley was interested in the Senate seat. On Wednesday, McKinley said he spoke with Capito on Tuesday and she will probably get his support.
A conservative, fiscally responsible person is needed, he said.
"More than likely at the end of the day, we're going to back her," McKinley said.
The 2014 Senate race in West Virginia will be a major campaign in the nation, McKinley said. A lot of money is going to go into it, he said.
"It's going to draw a lot of national attention," McKinley said.