West Virginia from the ground

A collection of thoughts as we head into the West Virginia presidential primary on Tuesday.

The caller ID last night showed an 877 number, but I answered it anyway. "I'm a local volunteer for Sen. Hillary Clinton," the caller said. He was polite and asked me if I intended to vote for Senator Clinton in West Virginia's primary on Tuesday.

I told him I liked Senator Clinton a lot, but I liked Senator Obama more. I said we had early voting in West Virginia and I had already voted for him, but wished him luck in his calling.

I meant it.

I wrote a post Thursday at West Virginia Blue:

Whether you want Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton to be our Democratic nominee, go volunteer for your candidate.

As I've mentioned for months, the Obama supporters have been much more active on the ground even though polls have shown Clinton with an insurmountable lead in the state. As Clem has pointed out so well, this state's demographics are perfectly suited for Clinton. But even more than the demographics, this state's personality is suited for her to win. West Virginians love politicians they're familiar with. We had Bill Clinton as our president and Hillary Clinton as our First Lady for eight years.

So for months Obama's supporters here have heard that Obama does not have a chance in West Virginia. That just made his supporters, and there are many of us, work even harder. Damn the overwhelming odds and full speed ahead has been the attitude of many of them. In Berkeley County, 50 of the 52 county delegates elected to attend the state convention were Obama supporters. Similiar efforts have taken place across the state.

The Clinton campaign effort got a late start in West Virginia. And national pundits and experts are calling the race over for her. To Senator Clinton's West Virginia volunteers, as an Obama supporter I urge you not to listen to them. Go out and give it your all for Senator Clinton.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIn 2004, many of us worked very hard here in the Eastern Panhandle to GOTV for Sen. John Kerry. We increased his vote by 30 percent over Vice President Al Gore's total here in 2000. And we still had our asses handed to us.

But you know what? I look back in pride to the fact that I did everything I could to make a difference. I've said it before and I'll say it again: every door knocked, every mile walked, every letter sent, every dime spent, I'd do it all over again.

Now go do that for your candidate, whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or even if you're a Republican supporter of Ron Paul. (And someone has planted more Ron Paul signs in this county than for any other candidate - with the exception of Democratic sheriff's candidate Kenny LeMaster.)

We've got plenty of time to come back together as Democrats before the convention in Denver. Primary wounds will heal. But what will be harder to get over is regret. If you want your candidate to win, go do everything you can to make it happen.

Barack Obama's West Virginia GOTV.

Hillary Clinton's West Virginia GOTV

It has been since 1960 that West Virginia's vote really mattered in the presidential primary. I do not agree with those calling for Senator Clinton to drop out of the race. While even her most loyal supports admit the odds aren't looking good for Senator Clinton to be the nominee, she has every right to stay in the race and West Virginia will be a high mark for her. Her husband predicted she'll take the state with 80 percent of the vote and who am I to disagree with the benchmark he set? The best and most enthusiastic GOTV in the world is not going to overcome the state's demographics which are perfectly set up for her as Clem so well demonstrated in the post I link to above.

I've got my disagreements with Senator Clinton on some issues and some of her tactics, just as I do with any other candidate, including my absolute favorite in many election cycles. If - the biggest word in the English language - Senator Clinton had locked up the nomination in February as many had expected, I would have happily supported her in the general election. My initial pick was Sen. Chris Dodd. I've got a long history of voting for a candidate in November who was not the candidate I wanted to see there. But I've always voted for the Democrat and considering the Republicans we faced I have no regrets about that choice.

But at least this cycle, West Virginians have felt included in the primary process, which has raised voter registrations to record highs.
...
We had several volunteers from out of town on Saturday for the Obama campaign. I thought it was a bit confusing the way the setup was today with two "satellite" offices in different neighborhoods. So people who went to the main hq in Martinsburg were sent out to the other two offices to get canvassing materials. The usual people from the campaign we've dealt with were out in Morgan and Jefferson counties working and a new woman was in fresh from North Carolina as part of the reinforcements.

I canvassed Saturday with an older, African American woman. We partnered and did a predominantly African American neighborhood in Martinsburg. It was an interesting experience. I've done African American neighborhoods before for other races, but there was such a -- I can't really think of the right word. Not just a vibe or a sense of excitement. Like a sense of participating in something historic.

After canvassing last week in Precinct 21, a ballbreaker with lots of DINOs, it was good this week to have so many strong Obama supporters. We did have one woman who already voted for Hillary Clinton, but she said she expects Obama to be the nominee and will vote for him in November because she can't stand McCain. (We have early voting or No Excuses voting in West Virginia where you can vote at the court house prior to the election day. The last day for early voting was Saturday.)

Our area also included part of a predominantly white neighborhood as well and we had some Obamas there as well. But possibly more interestingly was a conversation with a man outside his house who was not on our list. I suspect he's an R, but he said he has big money bet on Obama winning the general election and he'll probably vote for him over McCain.
...
While I'm on the issue of race, let me bring up something that really pisses me off, this false notion that Senator Clinton's supporters are racists. They are not. I'm going to quote Clem extensively because he said it well and I agree with him completely:

It pains me, I feel the need to write this diary... but after reading the coverage of the West Virginia primary around the blogosphere this needs to be said.

When I voted for Barack Obama last week, I was voting for Barack Obama, not against Hillary Clinton and not against John Edwards (also on the W.Va. ballot).

I happen to think Barack Obama will make an even better president than Hillary Clinton. Just because I prefer Obama over Clinton doesn't make make me anti-woman, anti-white people, or anti-anything else. I voted for Obama, it's as simple as that.

So, for the love of God, why do some people insist a West Virginia vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote against Barack Obama? Further, why do so many insist it's a vote against Obama just because of the color of his skin?

Yes, there are some West Virginia Democrats and Independents who will vote in the Democratic primary next week who will vote for McCain in November.

snip

Indeed, the vast percentage of Clinton voters will turn out in November for Obama -- right now they prefer Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama. That doesn't make them racist, misandrist, or prejudiced against people from Illinois.

You know, that vote for Hillary Clinton is probably just that: a vote for Hillary Clinton.


...
The Obama campaign has a new commercial airing in the state, the final one before the May 13 primary. Some of you might not like it, but I think it's really good for its intended West Virginia audience. See it here.

...

Whatever Senator Clinton decides to do about ending her campaign or continuing - and it is her decision, not the media pundits - West Virginia as one of the last primaries this cycle is going to give her a high note for the finale of her historic presidential bid. Whether she wins by 60 percent or 80 percent and just because it won't matter either way to the overall delegate count, the race continuing has been positive for West Virginia Democrats by increasing our regististration rolls and by preparation for the necessary volunteer effort that will be needed in the summer and fall again Sen. John McCain.

As much as many like to dismiss Senator Clinton, she's a hell of a lot better candidate than Senator McCain can ever hope to be on his best day. A big win by Senator Clinton in West Virginia over Senator Obama does not mean the presumed Democratic nominee cannot carry the state in the general election. Believing that is a discredit not just to West Virginians, but also to Senator Clinton. John McCain is no Hillary Clinton.

Tags: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, West Virginia (all tags)

Comments

35 Comments

I want to thank Jerome

I want to thank Jerome for his invitation to post here on the front page of MyDD. In his email, he said he didn't care who I supported, he wanted reports from the ground in West Virginia. Jerome deserves credit for his continued support of the state blogs like West Virginia Blue.

by Carnacki 2008-05-11 01:30PM | 0 recs
Thanks for the Update

Obama probably should spend a little more time up there but it looks like he is in GE mode.

by parahammer 2008-05-11 01:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks for the Update

He'll be in Charleston on Monday. Details here.

Despite the poll numbers, his campaign has done a lot of field work here. He'll need to do visits all across the state, not just Charleston, but also Wheeling, Mercer County, McDowell County and the Eastern Panhandle. Retail politics plays big here. It goes into that familiarity issue I discussed above.

by Carnacki 2008-05-11 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks for the Update

I agree. I'm disappointed that he's only jetting in for one short stop today. Unfortunately, in GE mode, W.Va. is only 5 electoral votes so we only rate so much attention.

I do take solace in the huge amount of field resources he's invested here--it's been very impressive. In the long run, that'll be a much bigger pay off. Still, there are so many people eager to see him in person, I really hope he makes more visits in the area.

by WVaBlue 2008-05-12 12:05AM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground

Thanks for the thoughtful local dispatch! I had a blast doing similar work in NH, and wish you luck in the coming week. And it's good to see another frontpage Obama voter saying Clinton should stick around. :)

by Nathan Empsall 2008-05-11 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground

As much as many like to dismiss Senator Clinton, she's a hell of a lot better candidate than Senator McCain can ever hope to be on his best day. A big win by Senator Clinton in West Virginia over Senator Obama does not mean the presumed Democratic nominee cannot carry the state in the general election. Believing that is a discredit not just to West Virginians, but also to Senator Clinton. John McCain is no Hillary Clinton.

Carnacki, I believe your commments are well-intentioned. However, I believe that it serves a discredit to Hillary to have to explain why people are supporting her versus the blantant and egregious comments that Obama supporters make about what state Hillary can not carry. This is truly becoming a double-standard of sorts in this democratic primary. Nothing to will serve me better at this point to see the media pundits twisting in dismay at surprising outcome that's not to their choosing--even if it's in the Fall.

As an African American, I can not personally bring myself to vote for Obama due to racist dogma that his campaigned allowed to be dropped on the Clintons.

by Check077 2008-05-11 01:43PM | 0 recs
For example?

"As an African American, I can not personally bring myself to vote for Obama due to racist dogma that his campaigned allowed to be dropped on the Clintons."

I've seen this claim so many times from the same bunch, but never anything to back it up.

It's time to put up some specific examples -- with names and quotes -- or shut up. Otherwise it's just another empty smear worthy of Maestro Rove.

by Kobi 2008-05-11 02:12PM | 0 recs
Re: For example?

You are rude to tell an African-American to shut up. Who do you think you are?

by doyenne49 2008-05-11 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: For example?

I'm an African-American too and that one up there is full of it.

by RLMcCauley 2008-05-11 03:07PM | 0 recs
Re: For example?

"Put up or shut up," is a common phrase which means show example or stop ranting nonsense.

But you could have provided it yourself if there was any example of, "racist dogma that his campaigned allowed to be dropped on the Clintons."

Some people need to learn that if they're going to make unsustantiated charges, they're also going to get called on out on it.

by Kobi 2008-05-11 03:14PM | 0 recs
Equal=Equal

To be clear on the topic:

Not saying something to someone because of their skin/genitals/hair/number of limbs/etc. is exactly as ignorant and condescending as saying something to someone because of their skin/genitals/hair/number of limbs/etc...

If you believe in equality you are welcome to insult or praise me without having to know anything about my biology.

-chris

by chrisblask 2008-05-12 07:21AM | 0 recs
Check077

I can only speak from my experience, but I've never heard any of the Obama campaign staffers, and there's several here, ever speak disparagingly of Senator Clinton's supporters or to bring up the racism card when it comes to West Virginia voters.

by Carnacki 2008-05-11 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground

Specific examples...?

John McCain worked against national recognition of MLK day for 12 years--do you prefer his dogma to Obama's?

by Brannon 2008-05-11 02:35PM | 0 recs
Mojo for almost everyone

and an HR for you, as I promised yesterday.

All accusastions of racism/sexism/etc... against each other or the candidates gets a TR/HR from me. Useless troll-bait and ridiculous charges that only serve Republican purposes.

-chris

by chrisblask 2008-05-12 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground

We have early voting or No Excuses voting in West Virginia

I like the phrasing of that. Is that what it is officially called? Or just what you call it?

by recusancy 2008-05-11 01:54PM | 0 recs
recusancy

I don't remember. I had it in my head that was an official term for it, but I can't find it on the Secretary of State's page. It might be there.

by Carnacki 2008-05-11 02:08PM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground

It has been since 1960 that West Virginia's vote really mattered in the presidential primary

48 years and still waiting.

by Kobi 2008-05-11 02:07PM | 0 recs
Slanted commentary

I guess when your candidate won't scratch 20% of the vote, senseless anecdotes like this one make you feel a lot better!

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-05-11 02:35PM | 0 recs
Zeitgeist9000

If that's all you took from this diary, then you have my sincere pity.

by Carnacki 2008-05-11 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Slanted commentary

You also predicted that Hillary would win Indiana by 12 and NC by 2--so hopefully you'll forgive us if we just completely disregard your Hillary by 60 prediction in WV.

http://www.mydd.com/comments/2008/5/5/15 1358/5645/2#2

by Brannon 2008-05-11 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Slanted commentary

Oh no - 60 points is the new baseline. You read it here first.

by Mandoliniment 2008-05-11 08:36PM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground

Nice on the ground diary.  I appreciate your positive and balanced attitude.  Thanks for writing it up.

by markjay 2008-05-11 02:44PM | 0 recs
Thanks, Carnacki, for the Informative Post

I really appreciate the on the ground view from WV, as well as your relatively balanced perspective on this race.  I am an Obama supporter, and have gone to Texas and Pennsylvania as a campaign volunteer, so I can relate when you mention out of state volunteers in your post.  I also picked up on your comment above: "I can only speak from my experience, but I've never heard any of the Obama campaign staffers, and there's several here, ever speak disparagingly of Senator Clinton's supporters or to bring up the racism card when it comes to West Virginia voters."  I will echo that as well from my experience--and I have encountered probably over 100 paid Obama for America staff--that they always speak respectfully of Senator Clinton and stay focused on the bigger picture (winning the White House) even in the face of very personal attacks from the Clinton campaign and their surrogates.  

As this primary is winding down, your post also reinforces the long term net positive aspect of such a protracted fight: there are record numbers of Democrats registered and field organizing that can be leveraged in the general in all 50 states.  Some say that former Clinton campaign volunteers will not step up to support the Obama campaign in the fall, but my experience makes me disagree.  After the initial hurt of Clinton's loss, I believe that a majority of former Clinton volunteers will remember the bigger picture and focus on getting a Democrat back in the White House so we can all get to work on rebuilding this country.  When I was outside Pittsburgh canvassing for Obama, we encoutered Hillary canvassers who were working the same turf.  We stopped and chatted and were both respectful and candid with each other--even in the midst of a bitter fight--and I have no doubt that they will be working alongside the other local Democratic activists in the Fall for Obama and other local Democratic candidates.  I respect any American citizen who actually leaves their house to go volunteer in the political process--regardless of their personal choice of candidate--and believe that the majority of those who do so have a greater capacity to see the bigger picture (Those who sit at home and fire off hate filled blog posts and comments are another matter).

By the time of the Democratic Convention, we will be a united party once again--and partly due to this exhausting and intense primary fight--we will be the most formidable political machine this nation has ever seen.

by nadacascadia 2008-05-11 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground

Great work Carnacki. Thanks for the reference from the 'other site', and all your hard work. A positive diary like this is an exception round here these days.

Thanks to your diary, I truly believe that the bitterness in the blogosphere is a separate thing to the enthusiasm and activism on the ground.

Come the GE, the dem candidate will sweep the republicans away

Keep on keeping on

by duende 2008-05-11 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground

Carnacki, thanks for the information and thanks even more for your attitude.

by Roberta 2008-05-11 03:47PM | 0 recs
Re:Campaign Energy

When the campaign came to IN the whole party was energized and excited about the election.  Are you seeing the same excitement in WV?  Are you continuing to contact and register voters?

Large numbers of people voting in the primaries cannot be a bad sign.  It means voters know where they have to go and what to do. It means they are registered.  I am glad Clinton is not folding because I think the organizing that is going on is far more positive than any negatives with the national media who are going to jump all over the Dem candidate anyway.

by bakho 2008-05-11 03:59PM | 0 recs
Re:Campaign Energy

WV is very fired up.

by Carnacki 2008-05-11 06:01PM | 0 recs
great post

I like the on the ground reporting.

I think you and Clem are exactly right. I truly don't understand why some Obama supporters think it helps their candidate to dismiss Hillary supporters as ignorant racists.

As for the ad, when you said we might not like it I thought it was going to be about Obama supporting coal (like his direct-mail piece in KY: "Barack Obama believes in clean Kentucky coal.")

I didn't mind the ad, but the halo around his head, just below the big cross, was a bit over the top.

by desmoinesdem 2008-05-11 05:09PM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground

THEY ARE NOT GOING TO TURN OUT FOR NOVEMBER, WAKE UP! THEY ARE GOING TO VOTE FOR MCCAIN AS i WILL DO THE SAME HERE IN FLORIDA.

by darlene25 2008-05-11 05:47PM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground

Then why are you on a site for Democrats? What could you possibly find worthy of voting for with McCain? His history of corruption? His support for an endless Iraq war? His desire to appoint even more radical rightwing judges? His opposition to a woman's right to choose even in cases of rape and incest now? His desire to bomb Iran? His eagerness to use Bush's imperial powers for his own ends? His flip flops on torture? If you're going to vote for McCain, why would you be here? You certainly couldn't be a supporter of Hillary if you share McCain's "values"?

by Carnacki 2008-05-11 06:05PM | 0 recs
Carnacki

I am inclined to take back every recommend and good thing I ever said about you at my old stomping grounds.

And I mean it!

...or maybe not

You always appeared to be a rational person so I'll give you your due and forgive your irrational choice of candidates :-)

Heh

by Coldblue 2008-05-11 06:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Carnacki

You didn't like Dodd? ;)

by Carnacki 2008-05-11 06:32PM | 0 recs
Dodd?

I thought you were a Gravel supporter!

My bad

by Coldblue 2008-05-11 06:43PM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground
Great post Carnacki.  Regarding the ad, I think you are absolutely right, it is a very good ad for its target audience.  I liked it very much, and I am a Hillary supporter.  Obama/Clinton 2008.
Let's join together and whip some Republican ass.
by Demo Dan in Dayton 2008-05-11 07:41PM | 0 recs
Re: West Virginia from the ground

Best damn diary I've read in weeks.

by Mandoliniment 2008-05-11 08:37PM | 0 recs

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