Democrat Joe Manchin's successful re-election to the U.S. Senate was aided by overwhelming support from West Virginia voters who ranked health care, gun policy or the environment among top issues, according to an innovative nationwide survey of the American electorate.

VoteCast: Health care, gun issues helped Manchin
By STEVEN WINE

Associated Press
Democrat Joe Manchin's successful re-election to the U.S. Senate was aided by overwhelming support from West Virginia voters who ranked health care, gun policy or the environment among top issues, according to an innovative nationwide survey of the American electorate.
AP VoteCast found that three-fourths or more of voters who said they were most concerned about one of those issues chose Manchin over Republican Patrick Morrisey.
Morrisey, a two-term state attorney general and staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, won only about a quarter of the vote among those who consider themselves independent. He won less than 1 in 10 votes among those who disapprove of Trump.
As voters cast ballots for U.S. Senate and members of Congress in Tuesday's elections, here's a snapshot of who voted and why in West Virginia. The results are based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, a wide-ranging survey of about 135,000 voters and nonvoters — including 2,610 voters and 831 nonvoters in West Virginia — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
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RACE FOR THE SENATE
Manchin, a former governor, won a second full Senate term representing a state that supported Trump by 42 percentage points in 2016.
Everett Neville of Milton said he voted for Manchin because "he has worked hard for West Virginia so far, even when he was governor."
Neville also said he didn't like the fact that Morrisey grew up in New Jersey. "His opponent needs to go back to Jersey where he's from," Neville said.
Democrat Darlene Dunfee of Milton said Manchin was her choice because "he's a Democrat, for one thing. I like that he's kind of in the middle."
Manchin made maintaining health care protections for pre-existing conditions a major focus of his campaign and chided Morrisey for joining a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Manchin was the only Democrat to side with Republicans who voted to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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TOP ISSUES
Voters considered several issues to be important this midterm election, including the economy, immigration and health care by about a quarter of voters for each. About 1 in 10 cited terrorism as important, followed by the environment (1 in 10) and the environment (1 in 20).
Roger Malcomb of Alum Creek, who suffers from black lung disease, said he wants to see Congress tackle health care next year. He said the government should be responsible for making health care available to all Americans because they've paid taxes their entire lives for it.
"If I go for an MRI, it costs me $1,000. And my medication stuff for my lungs, everything runs about $500 a month," Malcomb said. "I've got to pay that out of my own pocket. There is no such thing as health care anymore."
Malcomb said he typically votes a straight Democratic ticket. This year, "I voted for the person. I didn't for politics, Democrats or Republicans," he said.
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STATE OF THE ECONOMY
Voters have a positive view of the nation's current economic outlook — two-thirds said the nation's economy is good, compared with one-third who said it is not good.
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TRUMP FACTOR
For roughly 4 in 10 West Virginia voters, Trump was not a factor they considered while casting their vote. By comparison, 6 in 10 said Trump was a reason for their vote.
Retiree Larry Linch of Clarksburg called Trump "a national embarrassment."
"Every day we wake up and turn on the news to see what stupidness he's done that day, or is trying to do," Linch said.
Linch said Trump was a main factor in his voting decisions.
"I picked each one individually, but they all had a 'D' by them," he said.
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CONTROL OF CONGRESS
The election will determine control of Congress in the final two years of Trump's first term in office, and more than two-thirds of West Virginia voters said which party will hold control was very important as they considered their vote. Some 1 in 5 said it was somewhat important.
Republican state lawmaker Carol Miller held off a strong Democratic challenge in a district Trump dominated two years ago. Miller defeated Democratic state Sen. Richard Ojeda in the 3rd District.
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STAYING AT HOME
In West Virginia, 7 in 10 registered voters who chose not to vote in the midterm election were younger than 45. A wide share of those who did not vote — 9 in 10 percent — did not have a college degree. More nonvoters were Republicans (4 in 10) than Democrats (2 in 10).
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AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate in all 50 states conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for The Associated Press and Fox News. The survey of 2,610 voters and 831 nonvoters in West Virginia was conducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, concluding as polls close on Election Day. It combines interviews in English or Spanish with a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files and self-identified registered voters selected from opt-in online panels. Participants in the probability-based portion of the survey were contacted by phone and mail, and had the opportunity to take the survey by phone or online. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. All surveys are subject to multiple sources of error, including from sampling, question wording and order, and nonresponse. Find more details about AP VoteCast's methodology at http://www.ap.org/votecast.
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Associated Press Writer John Raby contributed to this report from Charleston, West Virginia.
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Online:
https://www.ap.org/votecast