According to Public Policy Polling, Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's lead over Republican challenger Bill Maloney has dropped to just 6 points -- at 46-40% -- after leading by 33 points back in April. That's shocking for a conservative but still very Democratic state.
(And how weird is the state politically? Former Gov. Joe Manchin's once sky-high approval numbers are down since going to the senate, but they're still pretty good at 59-26%. Says PPP: "It's safe to say Manchin is the only Democratic Senator in the country who's more popular with 'very conservative' voters than 'very liberal' ones.")
And it's especially notable since people actually like Tomblin, PPP writes. But they're starting to like Maloney too:
In quite an unusual twist for a race that's become much more competitive, Tomblin is as popular as ever. 50% of voters approve of him to only 25% who disapprove. That makes him one of the best liked Governors in the country and that spread is basically identical to the 49/24 one he had when he enjoyed a 33 point advantage over Maloney.
The reason the race has gotten so much closer is that as voters get to know Maloney better they're really liking him. In May Maloney was known to only 47% of voters in the state and they basically split evenly in their assessments of him, 23% rating him favorably and 24% unfavorably. Now that name recognition has shot up to 72% and folks are mostly reacting positively to him, 43% with a favorable opinion and 29% with an unfavorable one.
The election is Oct. 4. A bunch of stories by the Charleston Dail Mail's Ry Rivard are here.