There hasn't been a Republican governor of the Mountain State since Arch Moore lost his reelection bid in 1988 Cecil Underwood in 2000. But hardly known GOP businessman Bill Maloney has been surging against acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who took over when Joe Manchin went to the U.S. Senate. (Jim O'Toole's preview of the race is here.) Tomblin may still pull out a win, but only because the race is early -- another month later in early November and it looks like Maloney's surge would steamroll him.
When we polled West Virginia a month ago Maloney led by 65 points with Republicans and 5 points with independents. He currently leads by 65 points with Republicans and 4 points with independents. So there's basically been no change with those voting groups. The shift that's occurred has been with Democrats. Maloney's share of their vote has increased from 17% to 24%, while Tomblin has remained in place at 69%. Maloney has particularly made in roads with conservative Democrats- they now support Tomblin by only a 49-43 margin.
Maloney has proven to be a pretty appealing candidate. 44% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 33% with a negative one. This race is pretty unusual for the current political climate in that the electorate has a positive opinion of both candidates. But the momentum has been exclusively on Maloney's side over the course of the last 5 months.