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Race Ratings: West Virginia Redraw Disappoints Democrats

National Democrats weren’t thrilled that in a state with a Democratic governor and where Democrats control the Legislature, the decennial Congressional redistricting process is likely leaving the delegation as is — with one Democrat and two Republicans. But the state Senate Whip told Roll Call last month that the votes weren’t there to tweak the boundaries to make the state’s most competitive seat in the 1st district more Democratic.

To adjust for shifting populations, the only change made to the Congressional map was to move Mason County from the 2nd district to the 3rd. The change will likely have a negligible effect on the political contours of each district. National Republicans hope with President Barack Obama, who is especially unpopular in the state, on the top of ticket, Rep. Nick Rahall might be vulnerable enough to be unseated. But 14 months out, it appears that all the incumbents will be sworn in for another term in 2013.

1st district
Incumbent: David McKinley (R)
1st term (50 percent)
Rating: Leans Republican

Former state Sen. Mike Oliverio (D), who lost to McKinley in 2010 by less than 1 point, declared his candidacy Tuesday, setting up a Mountain State rematch. Oliverio will have to contend with an unpopular president at the top of the Democratic ticket. Barack Obama is not well-liked in West Virginia: He received only 42 percent of the 1st district vote in 2008 and is likely to garner even less this cycle. Given that the district remains unchanged, it could be a race similar to 2010. But with McKinley’s strong fundraising (he had $737,000 in cash on hand at the end of June) and his incumbent status, he begins the race favored to hold the seat.

2nd district
Incumbent: Shelley Moore Capito (R)
6th term (69 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

West Virginians like Capito, and the loss of Mason County to the 3rd won’t change the fact that the Congresswoman is a shoo-in to easily win re-election. That said, if she decides to take on Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the 2012 Senate race, an open-seat race would make the district considerably more competitive.

3rd district
Incumbent: Nick Rahall (D)
18th term (56 percent)
Rating: Likely Democrat

There’s talk in West Virginia that state Del. Rick Snuffer (R) is pondering a run against Rahall, a rumor that a well-placed Republican confirmed. While there is the potential for this race to be competitive, right now it looks like Rahall shouldn’t have too much trouble grabbing a 19th term in Congress.

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