West Virginia minus one week

After yesterday’s North Carolina landslide and Indiana cliffhanger, most commentators have upgraded Barack Obama’s chances of securing the Democratic nomination from likely to (almost) certain. The next stage in the contest, assuming it gets that far, is next week’s primary for West Virginia, at which 28 delegates will be elected through a “modified” primary open to independents and registered Democrats.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,481 comments on “West Virginia minus one week”

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  1. Ron
    I dont think must of have really suggested that West Virginia is a typically red state. We know it has A democrat governor, both senators and the local assemblies. It is however one of the must old,rural and unenlighted. Like very much old labor, CFMEU comes to mind.

  2. At last! Something new to bet on. When will Hillary concede from PaddyPower. Place your bets!

    After Montana/Sth Dakota Primaries but before DNC 8/11
    At the DNC 5/2
    Before the last scheduled Primaries (Montana/Sth Dakota) 5/2

  3. 1396

    you’re talking to a bloke who thinks Menzies is the ideal politician (of any century!) LOL

    ESJ is ONLY here to do one thing Andrew, which is exactly what he did here last time.

  4. WV has been swinging back to the red end since Clinton and will no doubt do the same this time.

    I can’t see what the fuss is about, when Nebraska has 5 delegates and Obama trails McCain just 42/45%.

    Yeeeeeeeha, let’s all get worked up about Nebraska.

    oh, that’s right, Obama won it from Clinton 68/32%

  5. Scotty, comforting about those state legislatures (a while back).

    On the small state strategy thing, I’m not sure how realistic it is to envisage an Obama campaign that sets out to win Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado (and perhaps some places like those others you’ve mentioned) while hoping to hold the Kerry states and not bothering too much with Ohio. Particularly that last part. I’m tempted to think it’s not, mainly because some of Kerry’s margins in the rustbelt/mid west weren’t huge and the current polls are close. Obama won’t be able to neglect these states, so it sort of makes sense to target Ohio properly while he’s at it (because the messages and positioning would be similar presumably). A possible implication: Obama won’t be able to avoid aggressively targeting white ethnics/Catholics/hillbillies/the white working class/white seniors (or whatever the undeniably doubtful demographic is). Even if that means reducing his chances of a breakthrough out west and up the income scale. That’s my first guess anyway.

    A related dilemma is the way Obama deals with immigration issues, especially drivers licences for illegals and the border. I’m worried that, if Obama does turn out to be weaker than the average Democrat with Hispanics, that will give McCain’s surrogates room to really hammer him (trying to weaken him in the rustbelt/mid west) without necessarily conceding the south west. But that’s a big if I suppose, and a smaller percentage from a bigger turnout gets you just as far doesn’t it?

  6. 1407
    Ferny Grover

    Crikey, is that right Ferny?

    That’ll be a blow to that Butterfly, eh?

    Thanks for the tip Ferny, those Obamabots really have their heads in the sand eh?

    Better than up their ars…..

    ….never mind, you get the picture! LOL

    Speaking of up his….

    …where’s GG lately?

    Gone to Hillary heaven? Died of an overdose of ronrambles?

  7. Winning the Nebraska caucuses is like winning Liberal preselection for the Federal seat of Melbourne – pointless.

  8. Diogenes,

    We all left one economist (the recent grad) to pour over the details and we’ll use his crib notes tomorrow. You might have noticed we often sound the same. No-one seems to mind though.

    Brief analysis suggests that if you hare a high income non-working family (or working non-family) – things are bleak.

  9. West Virginia is a pity. Instinctively I agree with Ron – it’s gettable for the right Democrat and the voters in question are not all complete bigots. But I’m not even sure Hillary is the right Democrat. If she had won she would have had months and months of being painted as a crazed leftist feminazi again. I’m not so sure that wouldn’t have worked, especially in some of the places she has done particularly well in against Obama.

  10. WTR

    I’m expecting to wake up tomorrow needing a blood transfusion to make up for the rectal bleeding Ruddski’s going to inflict on me tonight. I wouldn’t mind so much if he gave it to the genuinely needy, especially the indigenous, carers, homeless and mentally ill. God knows there are enough of them to help but I know it’s going to go to middle-class welfare to help Labor get re-elected.

  11. Another SD

    For the past few months Clinton has pointed to her lead in SD’s to counter Obama’s lead in states, votes and delegates

    There is a certain irony that on eve of potentually Clinton’s largest victory margin of the season – Obama starts to pull away in the SD count.

  12. Molesworth says

    “and the voters in question are not all complete bigots”

    – talk about damming with faint praise. Or are you just say there are some one-legged bigots

  13. Scotty


    Quotes tonight. Similar ones ‘hillbilly last few days:

    ‘WV has been swinging back to the red end since Clinton’

    ‘West Virginia is KKK territory, the dumbest, the poorest, and of course the whitest. Sixty percent don’t want change, that’s exactly what they don’t want.
    They’re still p!ssed that the niggas don’t ride down the back of the bus FFS’

    Ron: There is often one of me & a huge variety of Obama supporters replys. The above quotes are not correct. Which is why I showed stats Dems winning 6 of past 10 POTUS’s ,and the 2 before that (making 8 of last 12) Its a traditional ALP state/seat which Hillary can win) but Obama definitively will lose & decisively
    This State’s people will swing unlike rusted on Dems & Repug states making them more enlightened politically than many other States

  14. Molesworth @ 1410

    True. My point was merely that it forces the Gop to pay atention to states it takes for granted as in the bag. If the democrats spend time there the air time is cheap and they have at least 3 votes. It also means the the GOP also must spend less time in Ohio and Florida thus evening the score. The most important states are Virginia, Missouri and North Carolina. Any two of them would clinch the nomination. Virginia and Iowa also alone could secure the nomination. Of course this does assume they do not lose any which is very possible. New Hampshire seems to be feeling treacherous of late for example.

    Of course ideally 3 of North Carolina, Missouri, Iowa, Colorada and south Carolina plus those smaller mid western states should help achieve Victory. North Carolina especially as it can almost counter a loss in somewhere like Pennsylvania. Mississippi and Louisiana are two also where overwhelming black turnout (1 in 3 people) could tip the scales. Indiana is also another medium state notorious for low turnout.


    This is why i think Tim Kaine Governor of Virginia would probably be the best VP pick. As very popular former gov Mark Warner will be going for senate and having Kaine on ticket would help Obama there. (yay for growing fairfax county). Kaine also has family background and grew up in Kansas city Missouri that ever important bellwether state.

    But yes the risk is in gaining these black and Hispanic vote are that it could turn off white voters. Though it could help with the Cuban vote in Florida so keep positive.

  15. Even the Democrat strategists discount the chances in NC.

    But yes were Obama to win NC and SC it would be goodnight Irene for McCain.

  16. A better way to keep an eye on what may or may not happen is by looking at the House seat run off in Mississippi today. In Republican heartland, the Democratic candidate was within a couple of hundred votes of an outright win the first time around. Brief rundown here: http://electoral-vote.com/. Needless to say, if they win this one, we’ll be hearing plenty about it. And states like NC will definately be in strategists minds.

  17. Dio @ 1384 gather your olfactory functions and march post haste upon Ms Gail Kelly’s most recent posterior prop! Ahem. Live as we speak, according to Mr Mayne, thanks FInns.

    Hey ron/Ron I notice Iv’e moved from ‘special’ to ‘moreron’; up or down?

    Or come to think of it, in or out?

  18. If Hillary Clinton wins WV 70/30, she gains about 12 delegates. In the meantime Obama has picked up about 10 delegates in the last 48 hours and is going to pick up more today. Just imagine – in a few hours the trickle of superdelegates moving to Obama will surpass anything in WV. I wonder what the headlines will focus on tomorrow?

    KR – pass the popcorn!


  19. And tomorrow the sun will rise and people will get up go to the toilet get dressed for work , go to work , come home have dinner and go to sleep.

    Does this qualify as analysis Catrina? Do you have any insights at all to contribute?

  20. Seems to be a bit of chat today in Bludgerdom directly or indirectly about race.
    How will race play in WV polls?
    Will there be wider ramifications in November?

    The link below contains some hard truths for Obi supporters re the depth of racial prejudice still in play in the USA, and because much of this prejudice operates at a subconscious level, how will it feature come November when people vote in the privacy of a booth?
    Bravado aside, we should absorb these cold facts in assessing BHO’s chances.

    I think there will always be “pockets” of blind prejudice in America just as there are “pockets” of it, eg, in rural Qld and W.A. Worth considering is that the harsher the economic climate (eg in the extreme case of Weimar Rep.), the easier it is for power-mongers to fan the flames of bigotry. Remember too that the US Economy is odds-on for the colly-wobbles to kick in over the next six months. Cerebral arguments about who would be better economic managers will be harder to sell if “minorities” are hyped on high rotation as getting “special treatment”.

    Take a look at the way Obi has campaigned in WV. It’s clear that he is not wasting time on voters who are beyond reason because of their racial biases. This is wise. He put in a bigger effort there than HRC in Iowa, however WV is afterall just 5 Electoral College votes. Far better he concentrate his energy and resources on other States where his chances of winning are more realistic.
    WV for Obi is but a speed-bump State on the road to 1600 Penn. Albeit that little fish are sweet, at this stage of proceedings there are more succulent electoral fish to catch elsewhere.

    Appreciate that a year ago, very few people gave Obama a snowball’s chance in hell of being where he is in the campaign today. HRC was supposed to blow him out of the water on Super Tuesday, wasn’t she? Whatever Houdini type spin Hillary puts on tomorrow’s result, it won’t matter a Hill of beans after Oregon and Kentucky next week.

    A cake-walk it ain’t gonna be, but The Kid, he got game.

  21. Catrina, why do you bother quoting that stupid maths. You should know by now that it means nothing to Ron, The Finns, ESJ and the absent GG. Hillary will win WV and that is all that counts

  22. 1417

    Agreed M, they’re not all bigots. The crowd I saw Obama talking too was clearly white!

  23. By the way Catrina, I should warn you, Eddy is not only our resident Rush Limbaugh, but he’s well known for mysgonist practices.

    I’m pretty sure you can handle him! LOL

    But yes, all this hoopla from Ronron and Eddy (nice couple don’t you think?) about WV and yet within a matter of hours its Clinton delegates will be a numerical insignificance.

    A bit like them, really.

  24. Michael Barone has been presenting fanciful pathways to the nomination for Hillary for the past couple of months. The article linked below presents his grasp on reality. Just something to bear in mind the next time he pops up with a scenario:

    “Unfortunately — and here Feith is critical of his ultimate boss, George W. Bush — the administration allowed its critics to frame the issue around the fact that stockpiles of weapons weren’t found. Here we see at work the liberal fallacy, apparent in debates on gun control, that weapons are the problem rather than the people with the capability and will to use them to kill others. The fact that millions of law-abiding Americans have guns is not a problem; the problem is that criminals can get them and have the will to kill others. Similarly, the fact that France has WMDs is not a problem; the fact that Saddam Hussein had the capability to produce WMDs and the will to use them against us was.”

  25. 1431

    Ecky, fear not:

    The race factor, too, is overblown. Obama’s relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright reveals that the Illinois senator’s closet does indeed contain some predictable racial skeletons, and the GOP will try to paint him as a conventional Angry Black Man, an identity that is the kiss of political death. That tactic may hurt Obama with some white voters, who dislike traditional racial signifiers of black victimhood and white guilt. But Obama’s entire persona and campaign represents a decisive rejection of those concepts. And because Americans as a whole simply aren’t that racist any more, the guilt-by-association tactic will have only limited success. In fact, I would venture to predict that the number of Americans who will vote for Obama because he’s black — out of admiration for his achievements and character, to prove to themselves they’re not prejudiced, to prove to the world that America is not prejudiced, to effect a historic change — will be greater than the number of Americans who will vote against him for the same reason.


    …he’s betting on the young, and so far you’d have to say it’s been an astonishing turnout.

  26. Scotty, the whole young/black/Hispanic unknown turnout thing makes it a bit tricky doesn’t it. I’d love to believe those hypothetical projections and it seems to make sense that you can at least partially extrapolate from the increase in the primaries to the increase in November, at least with the young/black vote. I still hesitate though. I don’t like the prediction market odds on some of those states, but I know these are fallible too.

    Kaine sounds very interesting and potentially attractive, as does Missouri. I’m still worried about Obama’s potential national security gap though, so I’m sticking with Webb for now.

    ESJ – you’re too dismissive of Webb on the experience count I think. His experience, as it would be perceived, is a lot more than his two year Senate term. It would be wrapped up in being Reagan’s Navy Secretary and a decorated veteran, partly because it’s so blindingly obvious that that is what he is being picked for over others, partly because it fits with other Obama narratives, partly because its an easy story to tell.

  27. EC, caution, ‘just as there are “pockets” of it, eg, in rural Qld and W.A.’

    They travelled there…from? My friend. As ron/Ron would say I vigorously dispute that generalisation youse bitbutflies. I betray my black cockatoo colours here…bwtf…

    Besides we don’t want more pockets; that be the land of the loaded hankies, eh?

  28. 1439

    It may mean nothing, but the clip I saw of Obama in WV had him extolling the virtues of Webb’s bill (to pay college fees for vets) to the crowd.

    The mention of Webb seemed agreeable to those folks.

  29. KR at 1438

    Agreed – race gets overblown and cuts both ways. Partly too though, “black” is being used as code for “leftist” by the GOP and surrogates, which is an interesting dogwhistling reversal!

  30. Make that African-American jailbird.
    Of course your’re correct, Kirri. It’s just that when I table my reservations, the ultimate repast is so much more fulfilling.

    KR: “out of admiration for his(Obama’s) achievements and character, to prove to themselves they’re not prejudiced,”

    As Dr King said so eloquently fourty years ago:

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    It’s Time orright, mate!

  31. The historical curiosity regarding West Virginia and Obama is that it was a state created by pooor white hillbillies who wanted to remain loytal to the union because they were sick of being shat upon by the slave-owning tidewater grandees that ran Virginia. The geography made the region unsuitable for growing cotton or tobacco, so then as now it had a tiny black population.
    In the 20th Century the state became a centre for coal mining and saw some of the bitterest labor struggles in US history – we’re talking coal miners marching on the state capital and being met by machine guns and being straffed from the air.
    But the coal industry is dying and are the traditions of militancy which underlay the state’s “Blue State” status. What we are seing today in West Virginia isn’t just the past – racism, fundamentalism etc – weighing on the shpulders of the living. It’s actually a political degeneration, as sections of the American working class, who once had some sort of militancy and political traditions, exhibit the same sort of knee-jerk racism which traditionally asociated with the Dep South. Curiously, whites in the Deep South itself have been more inclined to vote for Obama.
    Meanwhile the state which was once remembered as the scene of Harlan County USA is remembered instead as the home of Lyndie England.

  32. codger, saw ’em for the first time on a doco about parrots on ABC last Sunday. Madame insisted we watch. Magnificent creatures. Now she wants to go to FNQ to check ’em out. ‘Bout time we went to the land of the Rainbow Serpent anyway. Stuff driving from SEQ, we’ll fly.

    Great background, Robert. Fifty years ago, sadist Lyndie would have been a coal miner’s daughter. But as TJW sang in Willie and Laura May Jones: “that was another place and another time”.

  33. 1445
    Enemy Combatant

    America reinvents itself, that’s what it does, and right now it needs to do it like never before. There is racism in America, deeply embedded, in the soul, and even embedded in a tree, (like the one the school kids tied a noose to).

    Most Americans realise they’ve turned down the wrong road, it’s showing consistently in polls, and most probably realise yet another old white guy, firmly attached to the policies that sent them there, is unlikely to turn them around.

    Obama taps into that collective consciousness that something is profoundly wrong, and his message is powerfully delivered that they need to change it.

    It’s not, ultimately about race, it’s about restoring optimism and hope to a nation that’s been bled dry with lies and mediocre non-entities playing the fear card.

    It’s re-invent or die, not black or white.

  34. 1446
    Robert Bollard

    Powerful movie about Harlan County and the miner’s strikes, RB, I can still vividly recall much of it.

    Nice post, thanks for the background.

  35. EC 1431

    A read of the Centralian Advocate and NT News would convince you that the “pockets” in the NT are rather large.

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