CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - Four-term West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw will likely fail in his efforts to be re-elected, a North Carolina-based polling firm announced Thursday.
Public Policy Polling had more than 2,000 West Virginians complete its telephone survey that asked for choices in six major races in the state, also finding that John McCain appears headed for an easy victory in the state over presidential challenger Barack Obama.
PPP President Dean Debnam said the firm's automated system called 30,000 likely voters over a two-day span, and 2,128 participated.
"We just thought it would be an interesting state to poll," Debnam said. "It's interesting that it's a mostly Democratic state and Obama looks like he's going to lose."
The poll, which has a margin of error of 2.1 percent, shows a 13-point (55-42) for McCain, even though 53 percent of those who participated were Democrats and 37 percent were Republicans.
Republican attorney general candidate Dan Greear, a Charleston attorney, holds a 50-42 lead over McGraw, with 8 percent undecided, according to the results.
Nearly one-third (30 percent) of Democrats polled said they were not siding with McGraw, also a former state Supreme Court justice, while only 13 percent of Republicans were not supporting Greear. Seven percent of both parties remained undecided.
By age, Greear held an advantage for every group over 30 years old. McGraw held a 46-41 edge with voters 29 and under, and 13 percent were undecided.
In September, a poll conducted by Orion Strategies and West Virginia Wesleyan College showed an 8.5-point lead for McGraw. Three weeks before that, Greear trailed by 17 points in a Mark Blankenship Enterprise poll.
"People are sick and tired of Darrell McGraw and his antics and they are responding positively to our message of reform for the Office of Attorney General," Greear said in September.
Greear's attack on McGraw has been centered around McGraw's handling of a $10 million settlement in 2004.
Every year since the settlement, Purdue Pharma, which manufacturers the painkiller OxyContin, has paid McGraw's office $2.5 million. A total of more than $3 million goes to the private attorneys McGraw hired, and the rest goes to substance abuse programs picked by McGraw.
His office admitted that it did not give the settlement funds to the state agencies it represented in the suit because the federal government could have staked its claim to the money. Nearly 75 cents of every dollar the state spends on Medicaid, the program alleged to be harmed, is federally funded.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to withhold millions from its next appropriation to the state.
McGraw's office says it was merely following a court order to carry out the settlement, and that most of his critics are out-of-state corporations that want him out of office because of his successful track record of taking on businesses.
Other results of the poll showed re-election likely for Gov. Joe Manchin, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and state Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass. Natalie Tennant appears headed for a landslide victory in the Secretary of State race.
In the presidential race, more women chose McCain (53-44), as did men (57-39).
Ninety percent of Republicans chose McCain, while the Democrats were split 65-31 in favor of Obama. Ninety percent of African-Americans also chose Obama, but they made up only 3 percent of the total of those polled. Fifty-seven percent of whites went with McCain.
Voters 18-29 favored Obama by a point, while McCain won the 30-45 group 59-37, the 46-65 group 56-45 and the older than 65 group 55-43.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at email@example.com.