The race to be West Virginia's governor is a toss up.
That's the word from Public Policy Polling, which released a new poll Monday giving Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) a 47-46 lead over Bill Maloney (R). That's narrowed significantly since the start of the general election phase in May when Tomblin enjoyed a 14-point lead. In early September, Tomblin led Maloney 46-40.
According to the pollsters, the change this month has been among Democrats. Tomblin has held onto support from 69 percent of Democrats. However, Maloney has gained support, as 24 percent of Democrats now plan to vote for him. That's up from 17 percent in early September.
In a news release the polling firm writes, "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."
Also of note: the pollsters do no include statistics regarding voters who plan to cast a ballot for the third-party and independent candidates.
"It looks like this race could go either way tomorrow," says Dean Debnam, of PPP. "Maloney's biggest enemy might be the clock- given the overwhelming momentum he's had another month and you have to think he would almost definitely pull out this race. But Tomblin may yet be able to hang on by the skin of his teeth.
PPP sureveyed 932 likely voters from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percent. So, this race is a statistical tie.