Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is trying to hold his seat for Democrats in a tightening contest. Republicans are marshaling their resources in the final week before the Oct. 4 election to tie Tomblin to the president in the hopes of nationalizing a gubernatorial contest, even though history suggests it's not a very promising strategy.
Following the 2010 elections, the University of Minnesota's "Smart Politics" political news website analyzed 550 statewide presidential election results dating back to 1968 and found no correlation between states won by Democratic and Republican presidential nominees and the partisan control of the governor's mansion.
But that's not stopping Republicans from making a late push to tie the White House to the governorship in a state where the president's brand is more unpopular than it is in most other places across the country. According to aggregated Gallup Daily tracking data from January through June of 2011, Obama's approval rating in the Mountain State is 33 percent, placing it among the bottom ten states for the president.
Because of the parochial nature of gubernatorial politics, it's difficult to draw sweeping conclusions about national trends based on the results of one race. If Tomblin wins, many factors -- including the strength of his fundraising, the state's natural Democratic tilt and the skill of his campaign -- will have contributed to his victory.
If Maloney wins, it gives down-ballot Democrats another reason to separate themselves from the president. But other factors besides voters' attitudes towards the president also will have played a part. Chief among them, Maloney's self-funding, and his resume: He's businessman who has never held public office running against a 36-year veteran of the state legislature.
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