MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In Tuesday’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the special gubernatorial election in West Virginia is not a referendum on Barack Obama’s presidency, and argued that none of the recent special elections had been reflections on Obama.
Tuesday’s special election in the Mountain State comes on the heels of two congressional special elections, one in New York and one in Nevada. Democrats lost both, and the New York election, having taken place in a heavily Democratic district, was seen by many as a direct rebuke of Obama.
“I honestly haven’t read about it, I haven’t seen the poll,” said Carney, asked if he had any comment on the election. “Special elections are special, and they’re often not indicative of any greater trend. And I think a good example of that is the fact that the Democrats won — I think swept the special elections leading up to the 2010 midterms.”
“It just doesn’t mean anything either way,” Carney continued. “It can be very specific to the state or district, and the fact that turnout is extremely low, and all the factors that you all know well.”
Republican Bill Maloney and acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin are vying to replace former Governor Joe Manchin, who was elected to the Senate following the death of former Senator Robert Byrd. The most recent poll on the race found Maloney trailing Tomblin by just one point, despite a Democratic voter registration advantage, causing some to predict that he could pull off a NY-09 style upset.
Fingers are already being pointed at Obama as the person to blame for Tomblin’s slim lead. The president has a 63 percent disapproval rating in the state.