I tend to pride myself on being a little bit of an election junkie. Especially special elections, where you only really have to pay attention to one race at a time.
So, I’m pretty embarrassed to admit I had no idea there was a special election yesterday.
I’m not the only one, though. The campaign to elect a new governor of West Virginia was one of the most under-noticed races of the year.
The winner was Earl Ray Tomblin, the Democrat who took over for Joe Manchin when he became a senator. Tomblin beat Republican opponent Bill Maloney in a very tight race, even more tight considering that Maloney was once 30 points behind. Both sides credit the narrowing race to a Republican backed ad that tied Tomblin to the implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care reform, a result that doesn’t bode well for many Democrats facing reelection in 2012.
West Virginia’s move from a solidly Democratic state to one that is trending more Republican served as a great case study in messaging and tactics for campaigns heading into an election year, and the GOP was happy to use the race as a test market for their evolving approach. Despite the loss, the party no doubt sees such a tight race as a key sign of success and will replicate the strategy as 2012 gets underway.
Meanwhile, the next special election will be held in Oregon on January 31st. Unless, of course, another one has snuck up on me somewhere.
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