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Earl Ray Tomblin
Earl Ray Tomblin

Public Policy Polling (4/21-24, West Virginia voters, 1/20-23 in parentheses):

Earl Ray Tomblin (D-inc): 51 (49)
Betty Ireland (R): 29 (32)
Undecided: 20 (19)

Earl Ray Tomblin (D-inc): 56
Bill Maloney (R): 23
Undecided: 21

John Perdue (D): 37 (37)
Betty Ireland (R): 32 (37)
Undecided: 30 (26)

John Perdue (D): 38
Bill Maloney (R): 26
Undecided: 36

Natalie Tennant (D): 39 (43)
Betty Ireland (R): 33 (32)
Undecided: 28 (26)

Natalie Tennant (D): 42
Bill Maloney (R): 29
Undecided: 30

Rick Thompson (D): 38 (31)
Betty Ireland (R): 35 (37)
Undecided: 28 (32)

Rick Thompson (D): 38
Bill Maloney (R): 28
Undecided: 34
(MoE: ±3.4%)

The West Virginia gubernatorial special election (which, remember, is being held on Oct. 4, not on Election Day in November) looks like it's shaping up without much drama: to replace popular conservaDem Joe Manchin, who moved on to the Senate, it looks like acting Gov. and fellow popular conservaDem (and Manchin ally) Earl Roy Tomblin has a strong inside track. Tomblin, whose name rec has improved significantly in the months since PPP's previous (and only other poll) of the race, is now putting up very big margins against the Republican opposition.

Tomblin's favorables are 49/24, including a plurality, 39/33, among Republicans, and his 'not sures' are down to 27%, from 39% in January. His endorsement this week from the NRA ought to only help solidify his standing among right-of-center voters. The other less-known Democratic options (SoS Natalie Tennant's at 36/29, Treasurer John Perdue is at 27/27, and House speaker Rick Thompson is at 25/24) put up less convincing numbers, but thanks to high Democratic registration advantages, all also win, usually by comfortable margins. That's a turnaround from January, where Perdue tied Ireland and Thompson lost; only Tennant finds herself in worse position than before. (Bill Maloney, a mining industry businessman without political experience, wasn't polled by PPP in their January poll, so the trendlines are only partial.)

Public Policy Polling (4/21-24, West Virginia voters, no trendlines):

Earl Ray Tomblin (D-inc): 32
John Perdue (D): 17
Natalie Tennant (D): 16
Rick Thompson (D): 15
Jeff Kessler (D): 5
Arne Moltis (D): 1
Undecided: 14
(MoE: ±4.0%)
Betty Ireland (R): 31
Bill Maloney (R): 17
Clark Barnes (R): 8
Mitch Carmichael (R): 8
Mark Sorsaia (R): 4
Ralph William Clark (R): 2
Larry Faircloth (R): 2
Cliff Ellis (R): 1
Undecided: 28
(MoE: ±5.9%)

The more important story for now, though, is the primaries, which will take place on May 14 (a Saturday, three weeks away). Unlike with the generals, this is PPP's first look at the primaries and assumedly will be their last; it's also our only primary poll outside of candidates' internals. Again, name rec carries the day: Tomblin has a sizable advantage. In fact, as Tom Jensen points out, despite the clutter in the Democratic field, Tomblin actually has a bigger lead there than does ex-SoS Betty Ireland on the GOP side (although watch out for that giant MoE in the GOP poll!). Maloney has set the pace on advertising on the GOP side, leaving Ireland playing catch-up. Maloney's latest ad, in fact, plays his ace in the hole: his firm's connections to the rescue of the Chilean miners earlier this year. (One other ad of note: John Perdue's newest ad actually features a jingle! That's such a throwback it's almost a little charming.)

For more on where the Dem candidates fit on the left-right spectrum, check out this excellent primer. This poses an interesting question for Democratic armchair quarterbacks, in terms of who to pull for (which is probably just a question of rooting, as this race certainly isn't much of a magnet for netroots dollars). Is it better to hope for the slam-dunk candidacy of Tomblin, or to go with a bit more of a roll-of-the-dice in the general to get someone, like Thompson or Tennant, who's a bit more to the left?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Three things (0+ / 0-)

    1) OK, this made me chuckle:

    Tomblin, whose name rec has improved significantly in the months since PPP's previous (and only other poll) of the race

    He's the governor!

    2) Tomblin has two first names, which gives him street cred in WV, although it would be worth even more in some other states.

    3) Maloney's a fool to play up his role in the rescue of the Chilean miners, because that only highlights the contrast with WV, a state in a much wealthier country where nevertheless miners aren't rescued.

    It's better to curse the darkness than light a candle. --Whoever invented blogs, c.1996

    by Rich in PA on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 06:12:23 AM PDT

    •  But his two first names (0+ / 0-)

      (Earl Ray) sound an awful lot like James Earl Ray (the killer of MLK). Then again, that may helpful to him in WV. Of course, it also sounds like James Earl Jones, which would counteract the James Earl Ray effect.

      I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

      by doc2 on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 06:34:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're overthinking it (0+ / 0-)

        I know enough Verda Mae's and Jim Bob's and other similiar constructions that you don't even think about it. Having a name like Earl Ray isn't going to help or hurt, it just is what it is in WV.

  •  We go with the one with the best chance (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    flhiii88, Matt Z

    of winning. I've gotten a lot more tolerant of conservative Dems as the GOP has moved into fringe-land. We simply cannot allow anyone with a GOP I.D. card to gain public office, anywhere we can prevent it.

    I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

    by doc2 on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 06:28:06 AM PDT

    •  I gather you haven't been paying attention... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wv voice of reason Manchin's act since hitting the Senate.  If Tomblin's like Manchin, he's essentially Republican.

      Move left on this one.

      "Nonsense!" said Alice, very loudly and decidedly, and the Queen was silent.

      by RIposte on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 06:31:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's no such thing as (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "essentially Republican" unless you vote for the Republican for majority dealer, which Tomblin wouldn't do.

        I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

        by doc2 on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 06:39:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure there is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CA Berkeley WV

          WV is like Arkansas and Louisiana twenty years ago. Basically everyone not named Capito is a registered Democrat. Have you looked at the D/R numbers in the legislature? There is a Republican wing of the Democratic party there - and Tomblin is the candidate in this race most closely aligned with it. Is there any issue on which his views aren't basically Republican ones? If you just want to see a "D" hold the office, fine. But if you want a Democrat, and someone who will govern like one (in the Charleston sense, not the DC sense - none of the candidates are anywhere close to Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi) Tomblin is the last candidate we should back.

  •  David Missed the Best Section of this Poll (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CA Berkeley WV

    WV Republicans are Crazy:

    Do you think Barack Obama was born in the
    United States?
    Yes 22%
    No 53%
    Not sure 26%
  •  I am from the northern part of WV... (0+ / 0-)

    ...where most of us have only one first name.  When I used to travel extensively for my job, people often remarked, with some surprise, that I had no accent. Sometimes, I would reply, "I also have all my teeth, and I'm not married to my cousin!"
    Anyway, I'm voting for Natalie Tenant...we left-leaning gals need to stick together.

    I will not apologize for my tone here tonight. -- Phil Davison, failed candidate extraordinaire

    by merfy on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 08:16:14 AM PDT

  •  So what... (0+ / 0-)

    Though WV always votes Republican in presidential elections, it usually has a Dem governor and Dem Senators.  WV Dems are nearly Republicans anyway.  It just makes West Virginian coal miners feel good to vote for a guy with a "D" next to his name (because that's what their grandfathers did), especially when they know he agrees with their conservative values.

    The only upside for Dems is that if a WV Senator dies in office, his replacement will be a Dem (nominally, at least), and Harry Reid gets one more vote for Majority Leader.  And, the Unions will have an easier time.  

    And,...Manchin ran as a conservative - remember him shooting a hole, etc.  He didn't stealth anybody.  WV voters got what they voted for.

    •  What do you mean nearly Republicans? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Do you mean because they are social conservatives? There are plenty of economically liberal Dems in WV.

    •  You might want to consult a history book (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CA Berkeley WV

      Until 2000, WV hadn't voted for a non-sitting Republican in the General in almost 50 years.

      There's a massive difference in any of the Democrats and the actual Republicans who run for office here. If you need an example, you can look at the stark differences between our last Republican Governors and the Democrats.

      But hey, go right ahead and dismiss the entire state as "DiNO" nothing like idealogical purity.

    •  Not true! Only Bush broke the trend. (0+ / 0-)

      We voted to re-elect Jimmy Carter, ferchrissecks. Did not voted for Reagan the first time, but I do think the state voted to re-elect him also.

      Bush is the only, and I repeat ONLY, first term GOP to win the state.

      Do your homework. Then take a smoke break with DHinMI.

      Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living~~Mother Jones

      by CA Berkeley WV on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 03:15:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Earl Ray (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    merfy, MRobDC, Matt Z

    Is way more progressive than Manchin I think. Still a conservative by our standards though.

    My wifes name is Anita Lou :)  I don't think making fun of 2 first names is so cool. If we started making jokes about some hispanic names we'd have dozens of people on here complaining of racisim but it's ok to bash appalachians???

    Tomblin's main negatives for me are he's a little too willing to "poision the hillbillies"  to gain a few jobs.

    The marcellius shale industry has a huge potential to bring money and jobs to WV and I think with the amount of money to be made by companies that we can expect a little more consideration and accountability than Tomblin at this point is willing to do.

    Overall though he's not bad and a HUGE improvement over Manchin both politically and IQ wise.

    My personal inclination is Tenant, because she is pro choice and younger. Watching the WV legislatue on TV it looks like an old folks home. All white haired old guys dozing off.  I think we need younger politicians able to think outside the coal box at the state level and outside the cold war paradigm at the national.

    So my inclination is to vote Tenant, although in this article I thought Jeff Kessler gave the best and most detailed answers to the questions they asked:

    •  The big problem there (0+ / 0-)

      Is that the young, educated people have all left WV to go find good paying jobs that just don't exist in the state. In WV if you want a good paying job, you either work in the mines  or the government.

      •  Due to coal. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CA Berkeley WV

        If you are a coal company you don't want an educated workforce and you want property taxes to  be low because you have large land holdings, so schools are underfunded.

        Also coal damages the landscape and roads so really any business needing transportation or whose workers want good schools or pretty scenery are out of the question in many areas.

        Also since coal and energy are so profitable they are able to buy the politicians to where most of what they concentrate on are the extractive industries.

        The dependance on coal jobs or gov't along with poor schools sort of cuts back on people creating their own jobs.

        Add to that that internet access sucks in WV. I live about 3 miles from a major city and I can't get broadband!

        •  I'd believe it (0+ / 0-)

          I've got relatives in the panhandle (what a lot of people consider the rich part of the state) that don't even know what broadband is, let alone that they can get it for the same price they are paying for unreliable dialup. Even the universities in WV are very focused on the coal and agribusiness industries. As much as I hate the overuse of coal and extractive energy mining, shutting them down would destroy the state.

    •  Love this line (0+ / 0-)

      This is a real gem! "I think we need younger politicians able to think outside the coal box."  

  •  Although some people here don't believe it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    flhiii88, Matt Z, CA Berkeley WV

    There are lots of places in America where the politics are right of center and fringe right. A "liberal" candidate could never win statewide in WV, that is just the way that the politics of the state are. Nancy Pelosi could never win in WV, but neither could Sharon Angle. WV voters are center-right, social conservatives that understand that government can help them out when they need it. My grandparents were both from WV, my grandfather a big union guy. When they were growing up, huge chunks of WV didn't even have electricity yet. Robert Byrd and coal subsidies are the only reason WV has anything today. West Virginians know that the government is what pulled the state into the 20th century.

    •  Your post sort of explains the swing. (0+ / 0-)

      The state started going to the GOP nationally about the same time the Democratic Party started going for Free Trade.

      Also since 2000 what things have the democrats done to really help unions or unionized workers??

      How many new schools have been built? New highways?

      You mentioned rural electrification. Compare that to the rollout of broadband and you can see that the gov't really isn't intervening in peoples lives in a good way as much.

      So in the absence of the gov't providing jobs or a better life or sticking up for workers people vote their fears, prejudices or moral values.

      When I was a kid I asked my dad "What is the difference between a democrat and a republican??"

      And he said "Democrats are for helping the poor and working people and republicans are for helping the rich"

      I would argue that with it's embrace of free trade, budget cuts that hurt the working class and other such things the Democratic party sort of walked away from the poor blue collar WV voter rather than vice versa.

  •  Why in Oct? (0+ / 0-)

    Why would anybody in their right mind waste taxpayer dollars to hold an election in October instead of regularly scheduled elections in November?

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