November 2, 2014

TAKING THEM HOME:

Goodbye West Virginia : Republicans have been chipping away at this Democratic stronghold. On Election Night, its collapse may be complete. (Betsy Woodruff, 10/31/14, Slate)

West Virginia is a red state, and you can blame George W. Bush. [...]

[B]y 2000, tectonic changes in the state's politics were underway. West Virginians tended to be economically liberal but socially conservative, and as social issues like abortion came to the forefront in national politics, the state started looking better for Republicans. The leftward tilt of the national Democratic Party helped matters, too.

And in 2000, that shift in the state--from blue to purple--caught Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore off guard. Former West Virginia Democratic Party chairman George Carenbauer, who worked on Bill Clinton's West Virginia presidential campaigns, said Gore's team ignored warnings that they needed to fight to win the Mountain State.

"I think they spent $300 there or something," he says with a laugh.

George W. Bush and his strategists saw polling that indicated that the state could be in play, so they outspent the vice president there, and they won it. Bush won the presidential election by 5 Electoral College votes, the same number allotted to West Virginia.

For Democrats, it's been downhill from there. West Virginia has voted for the Republican nominee in every subsequent presidential election. And in the 2012 Democratic presidential primary, President Barack Obama beat prison inmate Keith Judd by just 16 percentage points.

Posted by at November 2, 2014 7:21 AM
  

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