The Republican race for Governor in West Virginia has shifted dramatically in Bill Maloney’s direction over the last three weeks and he now has the smallest of leads with 32% to presumptive front runner Betty Ireland’s 31%. It’s a two person race with Clark Barnes at 8%, Larry Faircloth at 6%, Mark Sorsaia and Mitch Carmichael at 4%, Ralph William Clark at 1%, and Cliff Ellis at 0% rounding out the field. 14% of voters remain undecided even 36 hours out from election day, making this a complete toss up between Maloney and Ireland.
When PPP first polled this race in mid-April Ireland led with 31% to Maloney’s 17%. Since that point in time she has not picked up any additional support, while Maloney has seen a 15 percent gain in his standing. We found on that poll that Maloney’s primary problem was name recognition- with voters who knew who he was he actually led Ireland by 14 points, but 62% of voters were familiar with her while only 38% were familiar with Maloney. He’s now closed most of that gap- 65% of primary voters know enough about Ireland to have formed an opinion and the same is true for 60% when it comes to Maloney. Their favorability ratings are now identical at 47%, with Ireland’s negatives slightly higher at 18% to Maloney’s 13%.
If Maloney does indeed pull off the comeback victory it will continue the 2010 trend of right wing candidates knocking off comparative centrists in Republican primaries. Ireland is destroying Maloney by a 44-25 margin with voters describing themselves as moderates. But Maloney is up 33-29 with voters describing themselves as ‘somewhat conservative’ and with ‘very conservative’ voters, who account for the largest segment of the GOP electorate in the state, he’s up 36-31.
Full results here.