Shepherdstown, W. Va.
While Barack Obama is busy ordering champagne for his premature victory party on May 20th, Hillary Clinton is pounding the West Virginia trail to get-out-the-vote in Tuesday's primary.
By all accounts Clinton will enjoy a double-digit win in West Virginia, followed by another in Kentucky one week later. And even though Obama, his surrogates, and pundit parrots are furiously pre-spinning his losses in these two states by suggesting that they don't really matter -- West Virginia and Kentucky could end up being game-changers for Clinton. Here's why:
Rural America can determine who becomes the next President. And West Virginia and Kentucky show off Clinton's commanding rural advantage.
But they aren't the only ones. Check out the county-by-county results from four very close contests (Clinton is red; Obama, green):
Missouri (Obama won by 1.3%):
New Mexico (Clinton won by 1%):
Texas (Clinton won by 3.5%):
Indiana (Clinton won by 2%)
As you can see, Clinton's base covers a broader geographic region, nearly a sweep of counties. Although population counts may be relatively equal between the red and green areas -- these maps illustrate how well she consistently performs in rural America.
Hillary has hit her stride in small towns and rural communities across the country, connecting with working class voters with a populist appeal reminiscent of Bobby Kennedy. For those who have followed Hillary Clinton's life and career, we know it's genuine. You can see the joy on her face when she's working the rope line in town squares, even at the end of a 16-hour day. Of course Obama's "bitter" moment aided her, but cinching this demographic segment is a crucial achievement that Clinton has earned for the Democrats. And, you might say...one benefit of this extended primary season that some party members are anxious to end.
A Democratic pollster for the Wall Street Journal and NBC News said it well:
Rural and small-town voters are the best indicators of whether a candidate is connecting with the values of Middle America. "They are America. Too often Democrats end up with candidates who can speak only to metro America. If you can speak to [rural and small-town America], then you relate to the rest of America."
Pay attention, folks. These are General Election swing voters needed to reach 270 electoral votes.
And no one understands that better than the superdelegates, many of whom rely on these same voters for their own re-elections.
So Barack Obama might think twice about dismissing West Virginia and Kentucky, even if he calculates that their votes and delegates are inconsequential to the nomination. The hard-working people of Appalachia and bluegrass country represent a nationwide constituency capable of delivering the White House in November. And for Clinton, they will put her within striking distance of a popular vote lead.
Note: Maps and election results from uselectionatlas
Cross posted at texasdarlin.
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Not affiliated with the Hillary Clinton campaign