GOP making gains in the state

Rep. Shelley Capito ought to be pleased there hasn’t been much attention paid to her Senate race by national pollsters.

They are something like the press, after all. They like good story lines – i.e., conflict – and there really isn’t much of it in the West Virginia Senate race.

Why? Because Capito, R-W.Va., is so far ahead of her Democrat rival, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. The last national poll on the race, by Rasmussen Reports, was conducted on Feb. 19-20. Asking likely voters their preference, pollsters found 50 percent favored Capito, to just 36 percent for Tennant.

Candidates have to be optimists, so Tennant may well be looking with hope at the 12 percent who said they were undecided (4 percent didn’t like either of them). But even if she picks up all of the undecideds, Tennant still loses.

And she will. All politics may be local, it has been said. Not this time around. The fall congressional elections will be a clear referendum on President Barack Obama, with special attention to Obamacare and the economy. Because this is a U.S. Senate race, that makes sense. Voters will be choosing either a Democrat they hope will support the president or a Republican to do battle with him.

Guess which is the preference in the Mountain State? Hint: West Virginia has one of the lowest Obamacare signup rates in the nation (or did a month ago, when the feds actually posted numbers).

As more and more news comes out about Obamacare, more Mountain State voters are going to decide they need to vote against him. Most of those undecideds will go to Capito.

Speaking of Democrat candidates in deep doo-doo, how about Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.? He has represented southern West Virginia for many years. At one time, he was untouchable.

But that was before Obama’s war on coal and Rahall’s lukewarm opposition. Now he’s in trouble, especially among the coal miners who used to be his firmest supporters.

According to one report, the last public opinion poll on the race had Rahall 14 points behind Republican state Sen. Evan Jenkins of Huntington.

A couple of sources have told me Rahall is very disspirited. First, the polls aren’t encouraging. Second, the rafts of money national Democrat groups promised him aren’t showing up.

There’s even been talk Rahall may resign from Congress and drop out of the race. Resigning would allow Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to appoint a successor. Done quickly enough, that could give the Democrats a candidate to do battle with Jenkins.

But the question there is, who wants to be the sacrificial lamb?

By 2038, the U.S. national debt will reach 100 percent of the nation’s expected gross domestic product for that year, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects. That means that if Americans decided to pay off our debt in 2038, everything we earn for a year would have to be spent for the purpose. The debt, approximately $17.2 trillion, now stands at 73 percent of GDP.

A friend called the other day, wondering what effect actions by Congress during the past few months would have on the government spending deficit.

Well, brace yourself. Based on current law – including spending cuts liberals say are simply intolerable – budget deficits between now and 2023 will total $6.3 trillion. In less than a decade, our debt will top $23.5 trillion.

But CBO analysts threw a wrinkle into their calculations. As they emphasize, predictions on debt as a percentage of GDP are “without accounting for the harmful effects that growing debt will have on the economy.”

In other words, much like a family overextended on its credit cards, the national economy is being dragged down by our debt – and the problem is going to get worse.

Mike Myer is executive editor of The Intelligencer and the Wheeling News-Register. He can be reached via e-mail at