Public Policy Polling released a poll Wednesday showing Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) with a 46-40 lead over Morgantown businessman Bill Maloney (R) in the special election for West Virginia governor.
The candidates are scheduled for their first (and also untelevised) debate in the Northern Panhandle.
The poll shows Maloney has gained significantly on Tomblin since May, when the firm last polled the state on the race. At that time, Tomblin led Maloney 45-30.
Tomblin maintains a high approval rating of 50 percent, making him one of the most-liked governors in the country according to PPP.
One of the big changes since May, PPP points out, is that Maloney's name recognition has shot up considerably. His name recognition is up to 72 percent, compared to 47 percent in May. At that time, the people who knew about him were split about whether they liked him. But now, 43 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of him, and 29 percent have an unfavorable view.
Maloney appears to have locked up the Republican base after a hard-fought primary race against former Secretary of State Betty Ireland. He has a 65-point lead among Republicans.
Polling anaylsts point out the challenge for Maloney is that Tomblin is doing very well holding on to Democrats. Among Democrats, he leads Maloney 69-17.
PPP surveyed 708 likely voters from September 1-4. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent.