It doesn't matter who wins any of the primaries for Governor in West Virginia next month: Democrats will start out favored to win the general election in the fall.
While the Democratic nominee will start out with the lead regardless of who it is, some candidates would start out with bigger advantages than others. Earl Ray Tomblin is the most formidable nominee. He leads Betty Ireland by 22 points at 51-29 and Bill Maloney by 33 points at 56-23. He's proven to be a popular Governor. His approval rating is 49% and only 24% of voters in the state disapprove of him. Voters like him across the party spectrum- he's strongest with Democrats at 54/20 but he's also at 46/23 with independents and even gets plurality approval from Republicans at 39/33.
The race looks a lot more competitive if any of the other Democrats were to come back and win the nomination. Natalie Tennant is the next strongest, leading Ireland by 6 points at 39-33 and Maloney by 13 at 42-29. Although Tennant still has the advantage on the Republicans her numbers have been heading in the wrong direction since January by several measures. Her net favorability is now just +7 at 36/29. That's a 17 point decline from the previous poll when it was +24 at 43/19. And that 6 point advantage over Ireland is down from 11 in the January poll.
John Perdue posts relatively similar numbers to Tennant, leading Ireland by 5 points at 37-32 and Maloney by 12 points at 38-26. Perdue was tied with Ireland on our January poll so in that respect he's looking like a stronger candidate. But his favorability numbers, like those of Tennant, have taken a downward turn. He was on positive ground at 29/19 previously but now voters are evenly divided in their assessments of him at 27%.
Rick Thompson fares the weakest of the Democrats in head to head matches with the Republicans, leading Ireland 38-35 and Maloney 38-28. He actually trailed Ireland 37-31 on our January poll though so he's seen a good deal of improvement on that front and his favorability numbers have improved a shade since then as well from 17/17 to now 25/24.
Ireland's seen a 7 point net downward shift in her favorability numbers from +14 at 33/19 in January to now +7 at 30/23. That's mostly because Democrats have turned against her. They actually rated her positively by a 31/23 margin previously but she's now at 22/26, suggesting the Gubernatorial campaign is cutting into her crossover support. She's in a lot better shape than Maloney though- he's at 12/19 because there are more Republicans (12%) who dislike him than there are Democrats (6%) who like him.
This race is pretty simple to break down- Democrats nominate Tomblin and he's close to impossible to beat, Democrats nominate someone else and they still start out ahead but with much more potential for a close race.
Full results here