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Pollsters called it right
October 5, 2011 - Jim Smith
When Public Policy Polling came out early this week saying the election between Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a longtime Democrat power, and Republican unknown Bill Maloney was a 1 percentage point toss-up, I thought someone had been smoking too much wacky weed.
I couldn't believe a sitting governor-longtime Senate president would be in trouble against a Morgantown businessman who had zero political experience, even though he had defeated Republican sweetheart Betty Ireland in the Republican primary to face Tomblin for the governorship.
Wow, was I wrong and did the pollsters have their finger on the pulse of the voters.
Maloney portrayed himself as an honest leader and successful businessman who would create jobs, while Republican groups attacked Tomblin on ties to President Obama's health care plan, being a professional politician and state government giving million to Tomblin's family dog race business.
Apparently the GOP playbook worked for Maloney, just not quite well enough to overcome the huge Democrat vote in southern West Virginia.
Within The News and Sentinel circulation area, Maloney won every county except Pleasants and Gilmer, getting smoked by a huge 2-1 margin in Jackson County.
With a statewide voter turnover of less than 30 percent, one has to wonder if the turnout had been larger what would have been the overall effect on the governor's race? Whose supporters didn't make it to the polls and why?
Maybe the real question politically is what does the closeness of the special election between a longtime political power and a political unknown say for the future of Gov.-elect Tomblin in the 2012 full-term election?
It makes one wonder what would happen if a Shelley Moore Capito-type political power ran against Tomblin?
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