Tears of joy in West Virginia

People were shocked by ARG's poll showing Barack Obama up by 8 points here in West Virginia.

I'll admit, I was too. I spoke to people in the West Virginia Democratic Party, who looked at the polls internals on the demographics: age, party breakdown, etc. They thought the demographics looked accurate except for this:

The poll listed 55 percent Democrats. The actual number in the state is 58 percent. Democrats are actually slightly underrepresented in the polling.

Here's what my gut tells me. The poll numbers have definitely been trending Barack Obama's way here. Pollster had shown a 4 point McCain lead.

So is ARG being "quirky"? Possibly. It's a good sample size of 600 people and since the previous polls were taken we've had a presidential debate, a vice presidential debate, the economy took a nose dive and a Republican government turned to Wall Street socialism.

I could talk about our ground game. We have nearly 30 paid people (all West Virginians unlike the primary) in seven offices, running a coordinated campaign for our WV-02 Democratic candidate and other office holders. We're telling people to vote a straight Democratic ticket. We've had volunteers phonebanking and canvassing and registering new voters daily.

Meanwhile John McCain has a state director. Often the volunteer office across the street in Martinsburg is empty - including on Saturdays. A busy day is when we see six people there.

And I could talk about how the West Virginia Democrats went "all in to win."

When pundits claimed Appalachia wouldn't vote for a black candidate based off primary results showing Sen. Hillary Clinton's huge popularity in the region, the people here in West Virginia new better. While political "pros" were telling Obama to write off the region, the West Virginia Democratic Party had other ideas.

Basically Gov. Joe Manchin and Sen. Jay Rockefeller - not two of the most popular people here - deserve a great deal of credit. They contributed their re-election dollars and staff to the coordinated campaign.

Instead of running away from a candidate that picked up just a quarter of the vote, they've thrown in their lot with him.

When people phonebank and canvass, they tell them to vote a straight Democratic ticket (in West Virginia we have straight party voting if you desire so you can just check one box and vote for the entire slate from Barack Obama for president to Kenny LeMaster for sheriff - a great guy by the way).

So I could go into details about those things, but I'd rather show some photos from today.

Rusty the Labor Dog, what do you think of the false smear attacks from John McCain and Sarah Palin on Barack Obama and Joe Biden?

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Veterans for Obama in Charleston

Admiral Stone phonebanking.

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Admiral Stone at the press conference. What a great looking group of veterans we've got.

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U.S.Rep. Nick Rahall addresses a rally at the Huntington Campaign for Change HQ

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Barack Obama on Huntington radio station WDGG to talk about his event over the Ohio River in Portsmouth. (Great, fun interview)


Fayette County Democrats greet John McCain's brother Joe "Say it Ain't So" McCain when he showed up to speak today at a Republican event.

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You want to know why we're winning or at worst a toss up here?

* The Zombie Narrative about WV that I've tried to kill was wrong.

  • The economy.
  • Barack Obama.
  • Some damn hard work by many great volunteers.

Tags: Barack Obama, Jay Rockefeller, Joe Manchin (all tags)



Re: Tears of joy in West Virginia

You're awesome.

'Nuff said!  Seeing folks in WV so enthusiastic for Barack almost brings a tear to my eye.  I'm sure on Nov 4 when WV turns blue on the map, it will.

by neko608 2008-10-09 08:02PM | 0 recs

Thanks for the update & WV Democrats rock :D

by Natasha Chart 2008-10-09 08:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Tears of joy in West Virginia

i still don't know.  not because of WV, but ARG.  i still don't trust them.  hopefully they'll prove me wrong, but...

by Doug Tuttle 2008-10-09 08:20PM | 0 recs
figure it's close

more reliable, older polling had it four points down. that's enough that a ground game can win it.

by RisingTide 2008-10-10 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Tears of joy in West Virginia

Real people live in West Virginia. They are not different from most Americans - they can smell something is off a mile away. They don't want to be left behind. They want to be asked to help. West Virginians are the kind of people who look you in the eye and say what they have to say to your face. They are ready to listen, and even those who might not be agreeing respect you for saying what you need to say. I think Obama will win the state because of his honest approach to the problems we all face. A guy like McCain who can't look you in the eye, gambling with big somes of money whenever he gets a chance, getting his cut of schemes and taking advantage of hard working people - no. West Virginia is ready to be front and center in the provision of clean energy and honest government. Count them in.

by Jeter 2008-10-09 08:55PM | 0 recs
Obama in WVa

I would really like to see Obama do an Appalachian Tour.  It would matter to the people who live there and it would send a message to the whole country.

There are, for certain, people in Appalachia who will never vote for Obama because he is black.  So what?  There are people like that everywhere.

I am just as certain that there are people in Appalachia who would give Obama a try if he emphatically demonstrated that he really wants their votes.

What would be the downside?

by James Earl 2008-10-09 09:07PM | 0 recs
Obama in Appalachia- SE Ohio

Obama is at this time in SE Ohio, staying the night in Portsmouth OH before going to Chillicothe Friday a.m.  The entourage made an unannounced stop at a restaurant in Georgetown, OH, following a large rally in Cincinnati, for a cheeseburger and coconut cream pie.

He is accompanied by OH Gov. Strickland, a former Congressman from SE Ohio who is held in high regard throughout Ohio, following the disastrous Taft regime.

by susie 2008-10-09 09:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Tears of joy in West Virginia

It's been an amazing year.  McCain hasn't wrapped up the rural vote the way Bush did, and that's a real opening for Obama.  Is ARG all over the map?  Yeah.  But I don't think they've ever been off by much more than 10%.  The state is competitive.

by Skaje 2008-10-09 09:13PM | 0 recs
Primary vs General

Here is to winning Appalachia, but the fact that folks were forced to argue that there was/is a direct correlation between how many votes Obama received in the primary and how he would fare in the general is just a travesty.

Honestly, when I heard the Clinton team putting the 'big state' argument out there I knew they knew it was over. If that was the best the pros could come up with they were in trouble.

by Nindid 2008-10-09 09:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Primary vs General

not to rehash the primary debate, but the Clinton camp was right.  This election will be won in the big states.  I'm glad to see WV turning.  I'm glad to see swing states moving toward Obama.  But the fact is that this election will be won in the big states.  The difference between the Clinton-whomever vs. the Obama-Biden ticket will be in the MAGNITUDE of the victory, not in the victory itself.  At this point, if HRC had been the nominee, she would have won also.  Obama will almost certainly win, too.  If I had to bet my life's savings (maybe I am), I'd be that Obama will win.  But I'd be saying the same thing now if Clinton had been the nominee.  The only difference between them, perhaps, is just the number of electoral votes they'd each win.  Either one would win--Obama will just win by a larger margin.

by slynch 2008-10-09 10:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Primary vs General

Good points. The one aspect of Obama's victory I'm not looking forward to are the stuffy claims from his long term supporters that Hillary would have lost to McCain. It's inevitable those assertions will be made, natural spoils after isolating the winner early.

I don't know who would have won more electoral votes in this climate, Obama or Hillary. The economic crash and McCain's statement on September 15th and subsequent erratic campaign changed the dynamic so dramatically it throws off the application of logical variables.

by Gary Kilbride 2008-10-09 10:21PM | 0 recs
you're right, and I think hillary would have

had more pull in states with older populations --and less pull in states with younger ones.

but you send any people 'victorious' like that over here, I got 'em some humble pie.

I knew from the getgo that Obama or Hillary could win it. My vote bought out a little Wall Street influence on the process -- and that's a good thing.

by RisingTide 2008-10-10 08:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Primary vs General

And coat tails matter just as much in the smaller States.

by QTG 2008-10-10 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Primary vs General

Probably not worth coming back to at this point but I did not mean to imply I thought Clinton would not win versus McCain. In fact, I thought that Clinton was the better bet to simply win, with Obama having a much better chance at a landslide.

In truth, we can never know but my only point with the post was to point out the fallacy of drawing a direct line between the results of a Democratic primary and the results of a general election in certain states. It was always a fallacious argument and I can't believe the Clinton's ever really thought it was more than rather desperate tactical maneuvering.

by Nindid 2008-10-10 03:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Primary vs General

I agree--I think his magnitude of victory will be greater, but both would win.  Although, it's impossible to tell--given the McCain team's implosion, they both may have won by a landslide.

by slynch 2008-10-11 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Primary vs General

I'll disagree. Clinton's critique of Obama was that he was not connecting on the economy and that was why he did poorly in Appalachia. Obama's response was that the problem was race.

Now we know, race is not a big problem in Appalachia and the economy is winning this for Obama. Which is a better result all around.

by souvarine 2008-10-10 06:53AM | 0 recs
racial unfamiliarity is a problem...

Here's a bus trip to NYC from Pennsyltucky:
18 year olds on the bus, pointing at a guy on the street "Hey! that's a real live black person!"

(oy. they live forty minutes from the capital, which does actually have a considerable number of blacks living there)

Thing is, as Carnacki puts it, it's more about figuring out who someone is -- and a cultural suspicion of 'oddness' or 'foreignness' rather than purely about race.

Also, there are a lot of people who know better than to trust the Republican, even if they made their primary decision based on race alone. ;-) Try asking Lynn Swann about that one!

by RisingTide 2008-10-10 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Tears of joy in West Virginia

Hillary would have been stronger than Obama in Arkansas and West Virginia. But otherwise I agree the differences were exaggerated, from primary to November. Obama certainly had states where he had greater likelihood than Hillary, notably Colorado.

Intrade had a wild move today, based on this poll. Obama's price to win West Virginia jumped more than 20%, although McCain is still favored.

That's a difficult state to predict this time. The voters self-identify as Democrats but not as liberals. It's got a very high percentage of moderates, which would have aided Hillary. I never disqualify a Democrat in a state with only 33% self-identified conservatives but Obama will get little help from blacks or Hispanics since their numbers are very low. It's all about preference among white women.  

by Gary Kilbride 2008-10-09 10:11PM | 0 recs
that and old folks

... WV, like most appalachia, has a high proportion of older voters -- yet another reason Hill won big here.

by RisingTide 2008-10-10 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Tears of joy in West Virginia

This is very exciting! I hope so much for you Carnacki, that these numbers hold up. It will be one of the more moving, hopeful stories of the election if it proves true, even if he comes close!

by memstrong1 2008-10-10 12:25AM | 0 recs
West Virginia Blue!

by Beltway Dem 2008-10-10 01:01AM | 0 recs
West Virginia: Blue State

You know, West Virginia has only voted for two major Republicans in the past 20 years--George W. Bush and Shelley Capito. Other than that, the state went blue for President in three of the past five elections, and the Governors, Senators, Congressmen and veto-proof majorities in both houses of the state leg are wall-to-wall Democrats.

Governor Manchin, Senator Rockefeller, and both Democratic Representatives are shoo-ins for re-election, while Capito is in the fight of her life against the beautiful, powerful Anne Barth.  I remember it was a shocker in 2000 when WV  voted for Bush.

There's a lot of poverty in West Virginia.people are remembering that that bad old Federal Government maybe has some power to do good in financial hard times.

The surrounding states--Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio--were all swing states at first, but are now solidifying around Obama.

In short, an obama win here isn't as surprising as it may seem. I was more surprised that we didn't seem to be making a dent all year until now than I am that we may be turning the corner in time for November.

by admiralnaismith 2008-10-10 08:06AM | 0 recs
older population... maybe taking more time to


Also, I figure there'll be a lot of folks showing up from other states (like up here in PA). Any place that looks on the edge, we can shovel a few busloads to. And I know folks in Pittsburgh who were talking about hitting Ohio...

Ya figure we'd get any hostility from 'not being from there', if we come visit? (I'm remembering Iowa, mind.)

by RisingTide 2008-10-10 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Tears of joy in West Virginia

I spoke with Obama's state director, Tom Vogel, and much of what he says agrees with what I see here.  You can see the details of our conversation:

http://gawksquawk.newsvine.com/_news/200 8/10/09/1977413-obama-surge-in-west-virg inia-the-campaigns-take

McCain campaign officials have not returned my calls.

by gawksquawk 2008-10-10 12:25PM | 0 recs
ACORN, Voter registration, and fraud allegations

GOP logic errors:

False equivalence and Red Herring

For the past several weeks, Republican operatives have been stepping up their efforts in crucial swing states claiming voter registration groups have been engaged in a massive voter fraud effort in an attempt to influence the outcome of November's presidential election.
Actually, ACORN and groups with similar problems are being defrauded by their employees, who are demonstrably breaking the law in an attempt to make quotas in order to keep their low-paying jobs.  Nobody is going to try to vote as "Ocho Cinco."  Puhleeze.  The risk far outweighs any benefit.  The "voter fraud" accusation is a red herring.

Evidence of what?

ACORN has long been a target of Republican Party operatives, dating as far back as the 2004 presidential election. But the accusations of malfeasance have never been supported by evidence.
The evidence shows that ACORN is actually doing a good job of screening obviously bogus registrations.  In fact, thier own reporting to election officials form the basis of the complaints!  Clearly ACORN is making its best efforts to ensure that unqualified voters are not registered on the voting rolls.

Actual public harm

VR groups who pay people to register voters do seem to have an unacceptably high rate of false applications (7-8% in NM, or over 1000, according to an AP article in the Albuquerque Journal) which overburdens staff at a time when they are busiest.  For example, only election officials could verify SSN's for names copied out of the phone book.  At best, it costs elections officials extra money to pay more temporary help to screen out the bad applications not flagged by the VR group.  At worst, other legally mandated election functions are given lower priority, particularly compiling essential absentee and early voting data which is used by parties and campaigns for GOTV.  

Solving the right problems:

Big voter registration operations can have unintended adverse consequences, as we've seen in several states with ACORN.  Since the good these groups do far outweighs the harm, the challenge is to create processes which minimize the harm while supporting the good.  These can be either mandatory or voluntary, depending on the severity of the problem.  I have some suggestions:

1. Require training for individuals who register voters.  Mandate that elections officials accommodate groups that wish to be trained.

2. Provide the voter with a receipt, including something to identify the person who registered the voter.

3. Prosecute individuals who fill out fraudulent registrations or who fail to turn them in in a timely manner.  

4. Support VR groups that flag bad applications, don't punish or vilify them!  Elections officials can act in the public interest by helping to develop a "best practices" manual for VR groups.  Finding ways to minimize the number of false VR applications is better than suppressing the groups' VR activities.  The idea is to maximize accountability and ease of registration while minimizing bad acts and unnecessary work for all concerned.

by NM Ward Chair 2008-10-10 02:04PM | 0 recs


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