Raese, 48, Manchin, 46

Posted: Sep 28, 2010 9:54 AM
It's the first poll that has put the Republican Senate candidate ahead of his Democratic challenger. That split is still within the margin of error, but it speaks volumes about the once-sure bid of West Virginia's most entrenched Democrat. The Mountain State is known for two things: its love of politicians who it already knows -- for West Virginians, change is never good -- and for its love of Democrats on the national level. Time and time again, the state votes for Republicans on a local level, and Democrats in Washington.

Perhaps Manchin will be the first to buck both of those trends. Voters are already picking up on his flip-flopping on Obamacare, and his support for cap-and-trade is even worse. West Virginia is a coal producing state, and knee-capping environmental legislation never did a politician any favors. Raese has come out of the gate on that issue with his horns blaring, and maybe West Virginians are finally starting to hear him.