Democrats have held on in the Republican-trending rural stateÂ of West Virginia, with Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin winning Tuesday's special election.
With 81% of precincts reporting, Tomblin leads Republican businessman Bill Maloney at 49%-47%, and Tomblin has been projected as the winner by the Associated Press.
A survey in the home stretch from Public Policy Polling (D) gave Tomblin a statistically insignificant lead of just one point. The poll showed two competing trends in the state: President Obama is very, very unpopular in the state, while at the same time the more conservative West Virginia Democrats, such as Sen. Joe Manchin, are very popular. In this election, at least, the local Democrats were able to lead their brand over the finish line.
Tomblin succeeded to the office late last year, when Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate in a special election to succeed the late Dem Sen. Robert Byrd. (Under the state constitution, the office of governor is taken up by the state Senate President, who continues to hold his or her legislative office. However, Tomblin has acted exclusively as governor, without taking up legislative powers or collecting his pay for that office --Â and with the victory in the gubernatorial election, he will presumably resign from the legislature.)