Barring any 2000-style snafus, we should know in almost exactly two months who will lead West Virginia and Ohio...both statewide and on the national level...for the next two to six years.
We also should know the answers to these questions:
Can West Virginia's Republican party win some major elections-and control of the state legislature-this time around?
The state G.O.P. has tried in the past to tie President Obama's unpopularity in the state to West Virginia's Democratic officeholders. For the most part, those efforts have been unsuccessful.
A Republican has won West Virginia in every presidential race since 2000. But since that time, Jay Rockefeller (who is retiring) and Robert Byrd (who died in 2010) easily won re-election to their U.S. Senate seats. Joe Manchin easily won the governor's office-twice-and was elected to fill Byrd's unexpired term in 2010, and to his own term in the senate in 2012. Manchin's successor as governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, also won election to that office fairly easily-against the same Republican challenger, in fact-in 2010 and 2012.
The one possible exception to all this is Republican Shelley Moore Capito, who is the G.O.P.'s candidate for Rockefeller's soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. She has won every election to the House of Represenatives since 2000, again by comfortable margins. But they have all come in the Charleston area, not statewide.
Then, there's the governor's race in Ohio. Have the stories about Ed Fitzgerald, the Democratic challenger to Republican Governor John Kasich, dealt a death blow to his already-shaky election chances?
Fitzgerald on August 1, cancelled a campaign appearance to deny any impropriety in a 2012 incident where he and a woman-who was not his wife-were spotted in a car late one night. That was followed by news reports (in the so-called "mainstream media") that Fitzgerald had been driving for years without a permanent driver's license. While these arguably have nothing to do with his ability to govern, Fitzgerald has spent at least as much time defending these allegations as he has campaigning. In fact, he's replaced some of his campaign staff in the past month.
The best anwser to either of these questions will start in October. That's when early voting takes place in West Virginia and Ohio.