Republicans hoping for a win in the West Virginia governor’s race have cause for optimism, according to a poll released Monday that shows Republican candidate Bill Maloney now trailing acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin by just a single point.
According to the Public Policy Polling poll, Maloney now takes 46 percent of the vote to Tomblin’s 47 percent — a statistical tie. At the beginning of September, Maloney was 6 points behind Tomblin.
PPP points out that Maloney’s gains come primarily from picking up support from Democrats. In September, 17 percent of Democrats said they would support Maloney; now, 24 percent say they will support the Republican.
Democrats have a three-to-one registration advantage in the state. However, Republicans are trying to tap into discontent with President Barack Obama to bring down Tomblin. Sixty-three percent of those polled say they disapprove of the president’s job performance. Even Democrats are not overwhelmingly behind him: They split on Obama, with 45 percent approving and 44 percent disapproving. The Republican Governors Association ran an ad last week tying Tomblin to Obama.
In the end, however, because this is a special election, a crucial factor is going to be turn out, which is something that polls are not able to measure. The special election is being held to replace former Gov. Joe Manchin, who was elected to the Senate following the death of former Sen. Robert Byrd.
The poll is based on robo-call responses from 932 likely voters from September 30 to October 2. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.