West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District elections, 2014

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West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District

General Election Date
November 4, 2014

Primary Date
May 13, 2014

Incumbent prior to election:
Nick Rahall Democratic Party
Nick Rahall.jpg

Race Ratings
Cook Political Report: Democratic Toss Up[1]

Sabato's Crystal Ball: Toss-up[2]

West Virginia U.S. House Elections
District 1District 2District 3

2014 U.S. Senate Elections

Flag of West Virginia.png
The 3rd Congressional District of West Virginia will hold an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 4, 2014.

West Virginia state Senator Evan Jenkins (R), a former Democrat, switched parties in July 2013 to challenge 19-term incumbent Nick Rahall (D), setting up one of the most contentious races of 2014.[3] Funded by more than $3.3 million from outside groups, Republicans have tied Rahall to the "War on Coal" and President Obama, who is so unpopular in West Virginia that a Texas inmate almost defeated him in the 2012 primary, and Democrats have labeled Jenkins a party-switching, opportunist tied to "New York billionaires," namely Charles and David Koch.[4][5][6][7] The Jenkins and Rahall campaigns and the PACs supporting them were able to begin attacking each other early because Jenkins did not face a primary challenger and Rahall easily defeated retired U.S. Army Major Richard Ojeda in the Democratic primary.[8]

West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District is one of Ballotpedia's U.S. House battleground districts in 2014 because of Rahall's vulnerability as a Democrat serving in a Republican district. Fairvote projections show the district as only slightly favoring Democrats, but Cook PVI shows the district as heavily favoring Republicans. In addition, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the district by 26.8 percentage points in 2012, and Sen. John McCain won the district by 13.4 percentage points in 2008. Robert Rupp, a professor of history and political science at West Virginia Wesleyan College explained, "There are three political parties in the United States: Democrats, Republicans and West Virginia Democrats."[9] Many West Virginians, regardless of political affiliation, are anti-abortion, pro-guns, oppose Obamacare and see Obama's energy policies as attacks on the coal industry.[10][9] As "West Virginia Democrats" increasingly disagree with national Democratic policies, so has Rahall, whose voting record has become more conservative.[11][12][13] One in every four of Rahall's votes has been with the Republican party, as a member of the 113th United States Congress.[10] In November, West Virginians have a difficult decision to make because Jenkins' and Rahall's rhetoric and stances on the issues are similar.[14] The only issue on which they take a significantly different stance is healthcare, with Rahall supporting Obamacare noting that he sleeps "easy at night, knowing I cast the right vote," and Jenkins vowing to replace the healthcare bill.[14][15] Ultimately, the question voters will ask themselves on election day is: who will do a better job fighting Obama, the EPA and the "War on Coal"? The candidate who wins the race will be the one whom West Virginians believe will fight to save the coal industry, bring back jobs and restore hope to a state with an uncertain future.[14] The race is rated a "Tossup" contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.[16]

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
January 25, 2014
May 13, 2014
November 4, 2014

Primary: West Virginia is one of 21 states with a mixed primary system. Parties decide who may vote. Both parties allow unaffiliated voters to vote in their primaries.[17]

Voter registration: To vote in the primary, voters had to register by April 22, 2014. For the general election, the voter registration deadline is October 14, 2014.[18]

See also: West Virginia elections, 2014

Incumbent: Heading into the election the incumbent is Nick Rahall (D), who was first elected in 1976.

West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District is located in the southern portion of the state and includes Pocahontas, Webster, Nicholas, Fayette, Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers, Raleigh, Mercer, McDowell, Wyoming, Mingo, Logan, Boone, Lincoln, Wayne, Cabell and Mason counties.[19]


General election candidates

May 13, 2014, primary results

Democratic Party Democratic Primary

Republican Party Republican Primary

Election results

Democratic primary results

Nick Rahall, who is seeking his 20th term, had this to say after winning the Democratic primary: “I am honored to receive this nomination, the lines in this campaign are now clearly drawn: it's West Virginia working families against out-of-state billionaires and their puppet, Evan Jenkins. Billionaires from New York City will do everything they can to try and tear us down, because they know that no one stands stronger in Washington against their reckless agenda that threatens our workers, our seniors, our coal miners and our economy. But I have news for them -- the voices of West Virginia working families are infinitely stronger than their shadowy money, and we welcome this fight to protect our West Virginia way of life.”[6]

U.S. House, West Virginia District 3 Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngNick Rahall Incumbent 66.4% 36,844
Richard Ojeda 33.6% 18,610
Total Votes 55,454
Source: Results via Associated Press

Race background

Party switch

Jenkins switched his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican on July 31, 2013, and he announced his run for West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District on the same day.[24] “I am leaving Barack Obama’s party to become a Republican and run for Congress against Nick Rahall. West Virginia is under attack from President Obama and a Democratic Party that our parents and grandparents would not recognize,” Jenkins explained.[25]

The party switch was anticipated by state Democrats who stripped Jenkins of his leadership posts in the West Virginia State Senate and found a replacement for him prior to the announcement.[26] Nick Rahall told Politico prior to Jenkins' announcement that he expected Jenkins to switch parties and run against him.[26][25][27] When asked about the switch Rahall said, "Flip-flop. How many times is Evan Jenkins going to switch parties?" Jenkins' switched from Republican to Democratic party affiliation in February 1993 before winning a seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1994.[25][24] Referring to his 2010 opponent, Rick Snuffer, who also switched parties prior to the election, Rahall said, "I’ve dealt with traitors before and I’ll deal with traitors again."[25][28]

The switch generated sharply different reactions from Democrats and Republicans. The West Virginia Republican Party chair Conrad Lucas said that "Senator Jenkins is the finest example of an elected official who sees that West Virginia's future must take precedence over the parties of the past."[28] Jenkins also received a warm welcome from prominent Republican party leaders Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.[29] In contrast, the Democratic party chair Larry Puccio said, "When Washington Republican money came a knockin', Jenkins went a walkin'."[28] He also said that Jenkins was "only loyal to the dollar" and "Washington Republican money."[28][24]


Jenkins and Rahall donated to each other's campaigns in recent election cycles.[30] According to FEC reports, Rahall made a non-federal contribution of $2,000 to the "Friends to Re-Elect Senator Evan Jenkins" in December 2009. "In April 2010, Jenkins' committee returned $1,000 of the contribution to Rahall's committee, records show. Jenkins pointed to a state law allowing a maximum of $1,000 contribution for the primary election and a $1,000 contribution for the general election," according to The Charleston Daily Mail.[30] Jenkins also donated $500 to the "Keep Nick Rahall in Congress Committee" in October 2010.[30]

NRCC early target

Incumbent Nick Rahall (D) was one of seven early targets listed by the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 2014 congressional elections.[31] The seven targets aligned perfectly with the seven most Republican districts held by Democrats, according to FairVote's partisanship index. Rahall's district was ranked as the third most Republican (40% D).[32]

Power plant regulations

As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prepared to release new power plant CO2 regulations in September 2013, Rahall faced pressure from Jenkins. In July 2013, Rahall appeared at an EPA ceremony to rename the organization's headquarters. He insisted that his appearance was to afford him time to speak with Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, but Jenkins claimed it was a "public show of meeting with the EPA."[33]

DCCC "Frontline Program"

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) added Rahall to its Frontline Program in March 2014.[34] The Frontline Program is a partnership between the DCCC and members of congress designed to protect vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Members of the program are required to sign a memorandum that requires them to meet aggressive fundraising goals, accelerate volunteer and recruitment efforts and increase their online networking.[35]

NRCC "On the Radar"

The National Republican Congressional Committee added Evan Jenkins to their "On the Radar" list in November 2013. According to the NRCC, candidates that make this list receive "...the tools they need to run successful, winning campaigns against their Democratic opponents."[36][37]

Rahall retirement rumors

On April 6, 2014, on CNN's Inside Politics, host John King said that Rahall was "about to retire a couple of weeks ago. And the leadership convinced him not to do that." In an interview with LoganBanner.com, Rahall called King's comments "completely false." He added, “I gave absolutely no consideration to withdrawing from this race. The Democrat Party has always intended to support me and they and the voters will do just that. I would not give up this seat, which belongs to the people, without a fight.”[38]

NRCC's "Young Guns"

Jenkins was added to the Republican Party’s 2014 "Young Guns" top 10 list of candidates for the House. According to the National Republican Congressional Committee, candidates are added to the list by demonstrating "their ability to build a formidable campaign structure and achieve important goals and benchmarks.”[39]


"War on Coal"

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently pushing stricter regulations for coal-fired power plants. On June 2, 2014, the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan, an initiative from the agency to curb carbon emissions. The goal is to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. The plan would set greenhouse gas emission limits for each state, and it would be up to states to create and implement plans that would meet these greenhouse gas reduction targets. Coal-fired power plants are by far the largest emitters of greenhouse gases and are expected to pay the majority of the cost for this plan. These costs are expected to be passed on to consumers and will increase energy prices in West Virginia.[40][41][42][43]

As the second largest coal producer after Wyoming, West Virginians worry that the Clean Power Plan will put even more coal industry employees out of work.[44] The National Mining Association’s president and CEO Hal Quinn argued that the proposed regulations will ruin the coal industry. He said, “By ushering in higher energy costs the rule will cost jobs, slow employment growth, raise utility bills for millions of households and weaken the reliability of the power grid already described by experts as being close to the edge.”[45]

Jenkins and Rahall agree that Obama's "War on Coal" must be stopped. Jenkins said that the "EPA’s policies are 'devastating' to West Virginians — but says the 19-term incumbent championed Obama’s election in 2008 and appears helpless to stop the White House now."[14] Rahall "has denounced Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency as 'callous,' attacked its biggest greenhouse gas rule as 'disastrous' and filed legislation to block the heart of the president’s climate agenda."[14]

Rahall and Rep. David McKinley introduced H.R. 4813, the Protection and Accountability Regulatory Act of 2014, on June 9, 2014, to fight what they view as the overreach of EPA regulations. The bill "would terminate the new rule for existing power plants, along with the proposed rule for future power plants. In addition, to prevent some sleight of hand maneuver by the EPA, the bill will aim to block the issuance of similar rules for at least the next five years without congressional approval, according to Rahall."[46][47]


Nick Rahall said he supported former President George W. Bush more than he has supported President Obama.[48] When asked if Obama has been good for West Virginia overall, Rahall replied, “Probably not. I will support him when he’s good for West Virginia, and I will oppose him when he’s bad for West Virginia...I probably have supported George Bush more than I have Barack Obama. Am I going to switch parties because of that? No. I’m a Democrat, born a Democrat, am a Democrat and will die a Democrat."[48]

“There’s no question my critics try to blame Obama-Rahall for everything. I mean, the snow blitz that’s coming tonight is probably Obama-Rahall’s fault. And they won’t have that to do two years from now, so it’s obvious they’re leaving no stone unturned to defeat me this time. Because it’s the last time they’ll have Obama around! It’s that simple,” Rahall said.[48]

False claim

According to Politifact, Rahall's "average voting support for Obama has been 74 percent, compared to just 31 percent for George W. Bush, and his weakest support for Obama exceeded his strongest support for Bush by double digits."[49] They rated Rahall's claim that he supported Bush more than Obama "false."[49]

Key votes

Below are important votes that Rahall cast during the 113th Congress.

Healthcare reform rules

Voted "No" Rahall voted against House Amendment 450 - Requires Congressional Approval for Any Rules Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The amendment was adopted by the House on August 2, 2013, with a vote of 227-185. The amendment requires that all changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act be approved by Congress before taking effect. The vote was largely along party lines.[50]

Government shutdown

See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Nay3.png On September 30, 2013, the House passed a final stopgap spending bill before the shutdown went into effect. The bill included a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate and would have also stripped the bill of federal subsidies for congressional members and staff. It passed through the House with a vote of 228-201.[51] At 1 a.m. on October 1, 2013, one hour after the shutdown officially began, the House voted to move forward with going to a conference. In short order, Sen. Harry Reid rejected the call to conference.[52] Rahall voted against the stopgap spending bill that would have delayed the individual mandate.[53]

Yea3.png The shutdown ended on October 16, 2013, when the House took a vote on HR 2775 after it was approved by the Senate. The bill to reopen the government lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funded the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[54] The House passed the legislation shortly after the Senate, by a vote of 285-144, with all 144 votes against the legislation coming from Republican members. Rahall voted for HR 2775.[55]


Rahall v. Jenkins
Poll Nick Rahall Evan JenkinsMargin of ErrorSample Size
Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group
May 26-28, 2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org
Potential general election match-up
Poll Nick Rahall (D) Evan Jenkins (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
DMF Research
April 22-27, 2014
Garin-Hart-Yang Research
April 15-16, 2014
Tarrance Group
March 3-5, 2014
AVERAGES 46.67% 44.33% 9% +/-5.03 401.67
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

Sabato's Crystal Ball

Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, changed West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District from “Toss-Up” to “Leans Republican” in April 2014. Kondik listed the following reasons for the change: the Tarrance Group poll above, the false rumor that Rahall considered retiring, "the overwhelming support voters gave to Mitt Romney in 2012" in the third district and Rahall's inability to separate himself from Obama, who is largely unpopular in the district.[56]


"Worry," an ad released by House Majority PAC on March 11, 2014, featured a West Virginia coal-mining family warning "we both could get hurt" if Evan Jenkins, wins the race. The ad claimed that Jenkins “vowed to repeal black lung benefits” and “supports letting insurance companies charge women more for healthcare.”[57] FactCheck.org called the claims "bogus" explaining that, although Jenkins has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, doing so would not repeal the Federal Black Lung Benefits Program.[58] Jenkins supports repealing and replacing the ACA, but he has not explained how he would replace it. According to Jenkins’ website, "he is firmly opposed to any cuts to the Federal Black Lung Benefit Program."[59] Jenkins’ campaign also explained that he "would support a replacement bill that prohibits gender-based ratings when setting premiums."[58] “The fight comes down to who would better protect the expanded black lung protections that the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., added to the Affordable Care Act,” according to WVGazette.com. [60]

Jenkins responded to "Worry" by releasing his first ad, "Backbone," which attacked Rahall and House Majority PAC for their false claims in the "Worry" ad. After citing Factcheck.org's argument that the claims made by Rahall and HMP were "bogus," the narrator said, "Nick Rahall, a lying politician, just like Obama."[61]

"Worry," and "Backbone" set the tone for the negative ads that West Virginians have been bombarded with this election season. Attacking "New York billionaires" for telling lies about Rahall's record is the major theme that runs through the pro-Rahall ads. Rahall and House Majority PAC have released ads defending Rahall's record on coal and portraying Jenkins as an "outsider" tied to New York money in comparison with Rahall, who is a native West Virginian. Protecting coal, highlighting how Obamacare has hurt West Virginians and making the argument that Rahall has hurt the coal industry are the major themes of the pro-Jenkins ads. Jenkins, who has only released two of his own ads, has received help from Americans for Prosperity, the American Energy Alliance and the The National Republican Congressional Committee who have released six ads in support of Jenkins. Unfortunately for West Virginians, the attack ads aren't likely to stop. “We’ve been fortunate to avoid the large-scale, expensive ads of the campaigns that have gone on in other states,” said Robert Rupp, a political science professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College. “And that era is passing.”[62]

"Worry” & "Backbone"

House Majority PAC's March 2014 ad, "Evan Jenkins - Worry."

"Evan Jenkins: Backbone."


Rahall's April 2014 ad, "Cecil 30."

Rahall's May 2014 ad, "My Home."

Rahall's June 2014 ad, "Bipartisan."
  • In April 2014, Rahall launched an ad featuring Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers Association. In the ad, Roberts accused "billionaires of telling lies about Rahall.”
  • In May and June 2014, Rahall released the ads, "My Home" and "Bipartisan." Each ad chastised "New York billionaires" for telling lies about Rahall's voting record.

Rahall's July 2014 ad, "West Virginians."
  • Rahall's July 2014 ad once again tied Evan Jenkins to "New York billionaires" and highlighted Jenkins' vote against raising the minimum wage in West Virginia. The narrator said, "Nick Rahall believes that anyone willing to work hard should be paid a decent wage, and that Medicare should never be privatized." The ad failed to acknowledge that Jenkins initially voted for raising the minimum wage on March 7, 2014.[63] Jenkins then voted against a revised version of the bill. On May 21, 2014, Jenkins voted for the final revision of the bill to raise the minimum wage, which Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed into law.[64]

"Listens" lies

Rahall's June 2014 ad "Listens," attacked Evan Jenkins' stance on Medicare. The ad received “Four Pinocchios” from the Washington Post for misusing a Jenkins' quote and for suggesting that Jenkins wants to raise Medicare premiums on senior citizens. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post wrote, “It’s really time for Democrats to drop these repeated 'Mediscare' references to a supposed $6,000 increase in premiums. It is so out of date as to be laughable. But even without that claim, the use of Jenkins’ quote about Medicaid to make broad charges about Medicare is a ridiculous and misleading mix-up of policies. The Rahall campaign should be ashamed of this ad.”[65]


Rahall's June 2014 ad, "Listens."

House Majority PAC

See also: House Majority PAC

House Majority PAC's December 2013 ad, "Cannot Change."

House Majority PAC's March 2014 ad, "Nick Rahall - Stick."

House Majority PAC's April 2014 ad, "WV-03: Evan Jenkins - Spill."
  • House Majority PAC as of July 2014 has spent more in West Virginia's 3rd congressional district election than in any other 2014 race.[66]
  • House Majority PAC launched an ad buy on December 10, 2013, for Nick Rahall (D).[7] The ad ran throughout southern West Virginia for ten days and cost approximately $150,000.[7] “Right-wing, Koch Brothers-funded groups are spending big to prop up a two-time party-switcher, but Mountaineers know Nick Rahall is a fighter for southern West Virginia,” said Andy Stone, communications director for House Majority PAC.[7]
  • House Majority PAC released another $65,000 ad buy in March 2014 defending Rahall's record on coal.[67][68] In the ad, a man identified as retired coal miner Rick Ryan attacked “New York billionaires” for paying for attack ads against Rahall.[67] “Nick Rahall isn’t against coal. He saved my job and 500 others when he stopped Washington from closing the Hobet Mine...Those billionaires want you to vote for Evan Jenkins, a man the Gazette called a ‘shill’ for insurance companies,” Ryan said in the ad.[67]
  • House Majority PAC released a $65,000 ad buy in April 2014. "Spill" accused Jenkins of delaying a water safety bill. The ad also tied Jenkins to the Koch bothers.[69]

House Majority PAC's April 2014 ad, "WV-03: Evan Jenkins - 'Counting'."

House Majority PAC, "WV-03: Evan Jenkins - 'Crystal Ball'."
  • House Majority PAC's ads "Counting" and "Crystal Ball" both tied Jenkins to "New York billionaires" once again. Each ad noted that outside groups donated more than $1 million dollars to Jenkins' campaign.


Evan Jenkins' June 2014 ad, "Exist."
  • In the ad "Exist," Jenkins promised West Virginians that he will fight Obama's attacks on the coal industry, if he is elected.

Americans for Prosperity

See also: Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Prosperity's February 2014 ad, "Tell Rep. Rahall to Stop Obamacare."

Americans for Prosperity's ad, "Your Plan Has Been Cancelled."

Americans for Prosperity's April 2014 ad, "Christina's Story: End Rahall's War on Coal."
  • Americans for Prosperity released an April 2014 ad titled, "Christina's Story: End Rahall's War on Coal." In the ad, Christina, the wife of a coal miner who lost his job, said, "Nick Rahall let coal mining families down."

American Energy Alliance

American Energy Alliance's April 2014 ad, "Killing Coal."

American Energy Alliance's June 2014 ad, "Rahall Not Doing Enough."
  • The American Energy Alliance released the TV ad, "Killing Coal," which tied Nick Rahall to "anti-coal extremists." The ad was released on April 1, 2014, and the campaign was backed by a $113,000 buy.[71]
  • The American Energy Alliance released the ad, "Rahall Not Doing Enough," in July 2014. The ad tied Rahall to Obama's energy policies that have hurt West Virginia's coal industry.


NRCC's August 2013 ad, "Nick Rahall's Betrayal."
  • The National Republican Congressional Committee released an ad in August 2013 that highlighted how Rahall betrayed West Virginians by becoming loyal to Washington D.C., voting for a carbon tax that hurt the coal industry and by attending an event where "environmentalists praised Obama's War on Coal." The ad concluded by directing viewers to the website Rahall for Congress. The site makes the argument that Rahall has joined the "War on Coal."

Campaign contributions

Nick Rahall

Candidates for Congress are required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Rahall's reports.[72]

Nick Rahall (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[73]April 15, 2013$109,681.30$142,748.79$(35,322.74)$217,107.35
July Quarterly[74]July 15, 2013$217,107.35$182,325.11$(45,026.77)$354,405.69
October Quarterly[75]October 15, 2013$354,405.69$158,529.65$(39,200.90)$473,734.44
Year-end[76]January 31, 2014$473,734$428,313$(62,168)$839,880
April Quarterly[77]April 15, 2014$839,880.26$324,255.05$(65,788.24)$1,098,347.07
Running totals

Evan Jenkins

Candidates for Congress are required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Jenkins' reports.[78]

Evan Jenkins (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
October Quarterly[79]October 15, 2013$0$207,285$(10,342)$196,941
Year End[80]January 31, 2014$196,941$202,189$(32,012)$367,118
April Quarterly[81]April 15, 2014$367,118.19$193,529.93$(48,385.86)$512,262.26
Running totals

Richard Ojeda

Candidates for Congress are required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Ojeda's reports.[82]

Richard Ojeda (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[83]April 15, 2014$0.00$15,790.08$(9,260.49)$6,529.59
Running totals


Voter trends

Voters in West Virginia are leaving the Democratic Party, but they aren't registering as Republicans. “According to numbers from the Secretary of State’s Office, out of all of West Virginia’s 1,226,745 registered voters as of June 30, a total of 49.9 percent were registered as Democrats (612,228 people), 28.8 percent as Republicans (353,106) and 19 percent (233,075 people) have no party affiliation. Registrations for both the Mountain Party (1,502) and Libertarian Party (1665) are around .1 percent.”[84] The Democratic Party of West Virginia has seen a 15 percent decline in registration since 1994, while the Republican Party has remained steady at around 30 percent during the same period.[84]

West Virginians are increasingly registering as independents, which reflects a national trend. More importantly, though, is how the independent vote will influence the 2014 election. According to the Charleston Daily Mail, 26 percent of independents "said they take a somewhat or very conservative approach and 12 percent said they take a somewhat or very liberal approach," which may be good news for Evan Jenkins and other West Virginia Republicans.[85]

Voter turnout

According to records from West Virginia’s Secretary of State’s office, voter turnout has been declining in West Virginia since 2006. Turnout for the 2006 midterm primary was 26 percent and 44 percent in the general election. In 2010, turnout declined to 24 percent during the midterm primary and 42 percent in the general election.[5]

“During the 2012 general election, a presidential election year, West Virginia had the lowest voter turnout in the nation with about 47 percent of voters casting ballots. The U.S. Census Bureau said West Virginia was the only state where less than half of eligible voters made it to the polls,” according to West Virginia Metro News.[5]

Negative vote

Robert Rupp, a history and political science professor at West Virginia Wesleyan, noted that if Richard Ojeda had received a substantial number of votes it would have been “another sign that [Rahall] is in trouble and, as we know in past presidential primaries, West Virginians do use the primary to cast a negative vote.” Keith Judd, a Texas prison inmate, received 41 percent of the Democratic vote instead of President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential primary in West Virginia.[5]

District history

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Democratic territory

The last Republican elected in the 3rd Congressional District was William Elmer Neal, who served from 1953-1955. If Rahall loses the seat in November, it will be the first time since 1922 that West Virginia will have an all-Republican House delegation.[10]


The 3rd Congressional District of West Virginia held an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2012. Incumbent Nick Rahall won re-election in the district, defeating Rick Snuffer (R) in the general election.[86]

U.S. House, West Virginia District 3 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngNick Rahall Incumbent 53.5% 102,519
     Republican Rick Snuffer 46.5% 88,999
Total Votes 191,518
Source: West Virginia Secretary of State "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election"


On November 2, 2010, Nick Rahall won re-election to the United States House. He defeated Elliott E. "Spike" Maynard (R) in the general election.[87]

U.S. House, West Virginia District 3 General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngNick Rahall incumbent 56% 83,636
     Republican Elliott E. "Spike" Maynard" 44% 65,611
Total Votes 149,247

See also

External links


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  2. Sabato's Crystal Ball, "2014 House Races," accessed August 21, 2014
  3. The Associated Press, "Lawmaker switches parties, to seek Rahall's seat," July 31, 2013
  4. West Virginia Public Broadcasting, "Millions in Outside Cash Pours into Rahall-Jenkins Race," accessed July 10, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 WV Metro News, "Light voter turnout expected for Tuesday’s primary," accessed May 12, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 WSAZ.com, "Longtime U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall Wins Democratic Nomination," accessed May 14, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 The House Majority PAC, "House Majority PAC To Air WV-03 Ad," accessed December 11, 2013
  8. Associated Press, "West Virginia - Summary Vote Results," May 13, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 NewsMax.com, "Longtime W.Va. Democrat Rep. Nick Rahall Faces Tough Re-election," May 3, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 New York Times, "A West Virginia Democrat Battles Extinction," May 1, 2014
  11. OpenCongress, "Voting with party," accessed July 29, 2014
  12. National Journal, "2013 Congressional Vote Ratings," July 21, 2014
  13. National Journal, "2012 Congressional Vote Ratings," February 28, 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Politico, "Coal fires up West Virginia House race," June 26, 2014
  15. EvanJenkins.com, "Obamacare," accessed July 29, 2014
  16. Roll Call, "2014 Election Race Ratings," accessed June 24, 2014
  17. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  18. West Virginia Secretary of State Website, "Voter Registration FAQ," accessed January 3, 2014
  19. West Virginia Redistricting Map "Map" accessed July 24, 2012
  20. West Virginia Secretary of State, "Candidate Search," accessed January 27, 2014
  21. Associated Press, "West Virginia - Summary Vote Results," May 13, 2014
  22. The Hill, "Manchin's State of Union guest to challenge Rep. Nick Rahall," accessed January 20, 2014
  23. Washington Post, "West Virginia Democrat switches parties to challenge Rahall," accessed July 31, 2013
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 The Associated Press, "Lawmaker switches parties, to seek Rahall's seat," July 31, 2013
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Politico, "Democrat switches parties to run vs. Nick Rahall," July 31, 2013
  26. 26.0 26.1 The Herald-Dispatch, "Jenkins stripped of leader posts in Senate," July 30, 2013
  27. Politico, "For Nick Rahall, distance from EPA, Obama still vital," July 29, 2013
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 The State Journal, "WV GOP welcomes Sen. Evan Jenkins to the party and US Congress run," July 31, 2013
  29. Roll Call, "Democrat Switches Parties to Challenge Rahall (Updated) #WV03," July 31, 2013
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