GOP surge in WV guv race tied to Obama woes?

Today, voters in West Virginia go to the polls to decide who will complete the gubernatorial term of Joe Manchin, who won a spirited race last year to fill the state's then-vacant U.S. Senate seat.

After Manchin managed to break out of a close race in the closing weeks of his 2010 Senate race, Republicans weren't given much of a shot at contesting the race to replace him, but the race between acting Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and GOP businessman Bill Maloney, which started out as a sure-bet win for Tomblin, has changed radically with polling showing undecided voters breaking heavily for Maloney, cutting a lead of over thirty points to dead even.

Who's to blame for this sudden reversal? The same one they blamed for the loss of New York's Ninth Congressional District several weeks ago: President Barack Obama.

What Republicans have done, though, is transformed the national issue that is Obama’s health care bill into a state one. And given Obama’s approval rating in the state — which has stood in the low-30s for some time — that could be a winning strategy.

The effect of the Tomblin-equals-Obama messaging has been to push undecided voters, which until last week were about one-quarter of all likely voters, into the Maloney camp.

Here's the ad the Republican Governor's Association has been pummelling Tomblin with to help capitalize on Obama's poor standing with West Virginia voters:

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