Ad analysis: The West Virginia gubernatorial race

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September 30, 2011

West Virginia

Charleston, WV: Early voting for the 2011 gubernatorial election ends tomorrow, October 1st. With Election Day now just four days away, the two main party candidates, Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin and Republican Bill Maloney, continue to get their message out to West Virginia voters through virtually every medium available: billboards and yard signs, radio and television ads, and Facebook and Twitter.

From the beginning of this race, each candidate has had a particular focus for their campaign. Maloney is: "Conservative. Job Creator. Not a career politician," while Tomblin wants to "Create jobs and lower taxes." The arc of the media campaign has followed a typical route - early ads that establish each candidate as a responsible family man, followed a few weeks later by ads that attack their opponent, which causes rebuttal ads - but at this juncture, the candidates are delivering two very different messages. Tomblin has returned to the root of his campaign, with an ad focused on job creation, financial improvement, and highlighting his key endorsements (including a cameo from Senator Joe Manchin). Maloney remains on the defensive, using his latest television ad to prove he is a true West Virginian, noting he moved to the state after graduating from college, raised his daughter in West Virginia, and attends church in the Mountain State. He even makes two references to football to drive home his point.

The polls draw the candidates closer each month, and it's unclear how this latest round of ads might affect West Virginia's voters. One thing is certain: this race is far from over. Check back with us on Monday for a complete analysis of the race, and on Tuesday and Wednesday for continued coverage of the election results as they come in.

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