White voters in West Virginia

A funny thing happened on election day. Despite being told over and over again...

The press, however, will lap up the talking points of the pundits, Clinton spinners (and Republicans) that losing Kentucky and West Virginia means that Obama won't do well with White voters, when it really means voters in Appalachia aren't ready to vote for a Black candidate, even though in most of the rest of the country they are.

...the reality is white voters in West Virginia, the state where every county is in Appalachia, voted for the black candidate Barack Obama at the same level as they did the white candidate John Kerry in 2004.

Not only that, but there's a razor's margin of difference with how Obama fared with white voters in West Virginia for Obama with white voters nationally for Obama.

National
Vote by race
White voters 43 percent Obama

West Virginia
Vote by race
White voters 41 percent Obama

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Biden: We'll win West Virginia

Yes. We. Can.

From the Charleston Gazette:

At a rally a few miles from the West Virginia border on Tuesday, Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden predicted he and Sen. Barack Obama would win West Virginia in the Nov. 4 presidential election.

According to NBC's Mike Memoli, Biden asked the crowd in St. Clairsville, Ohio, "Which way is West-By-God-Virginia?" He then said, "I want to send a message to West Virginia -- we're going to win in West Virginia! ... We're going to shock the living devil out of y'all!"

Let's win to send a message that Hope triumphs over Hate.

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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.

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Hillary Clinton to endorse Anne Barth on Friday

Sen. Hillary Clinton, who showed how popular she is here in the West Virginia primary, will be here to stump for our Democratic challenger to Bush Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-Missing).

WSAZ reports the story:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The winner of West Virginia's Democratic primary for president will visit Charleston this Friday to endorse Anne Barth for Congress.

United States Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will host a rally for Barth's campaign beginning at 1pm at the University of Charleston.

Excellent news. Click on the link for more details.

For weeks I'd been urging her to come to West Virginia to campaign for Barack Obama. I can't tell you how happy I am she's coming here to endorse Anne Barth.

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Across Queen Street in Martinsburg, West Virginia

The following diary is photo intensive. It contains images of hopeful, hard working people. Such images can raise enthusiasm, hope, and cause smiles. Other side effects may vary. Use only as directed. Consult with your physician if such symptoms remain prolonged. The most recent poll taken earlier this week showed Sen. Barack Obama within 5 points in West Virginia. 5 points.

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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.

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Byrd's opinion is 'elite' for a good reason

The last time I checked, Sen. Robert C. Byrd had not endorsed Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, which I thought a good move considering how much I want him to keep focused on the election of his long-time state director Anne Barth to the House of Representatives in WV-02.

Still, considering how much Senator Obama did for Senator Byrd with fundraising Byrd's 2006 re-election bid, you would think Sen. Hillary Clinton would not want to go out of her way to be so dismissive of Senator Byrd.

Senator Byrd, afterall, is one of the uncommitted superdelegates she's courting.

In an April 18 AP story, Byrd denounced the federal gasoline tax holiday proposal as a bad idea after it was proposed by Sen. John "A Bush 3rd Term" McCain, who was later joined by Senator Clinton.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., called McCain's idea "dangerous."
"This proposal would have dangerous consequences," Byrd said. "It would disrupt road construction projects across the country, and stymie economic development in the midst of a recession.

"Instead, we should be getting tough on oil companies who are reaping astronomical profits, and be pushing oil producing countries to lower prices, especially the ones benefiting from the national security efforts of the American taxpayers."

The estimate I've seen is over the course of three months, it would save Americans about $30 to $35, although in the most likely scenario, price rises from increased demand and the insatiable greed of the oil companies would eliminate even that minor cost savings.

But now Senator Clinton is denouncing those who are critical of her and McCain's idea.

Could she name a single economist who agrees with her support for the gas tax holiday?

Hillary sidestepped the question, and tried to use the complete dearth of expert support for the idea to her advantage, pointing to it as proof that she's on the side of ordinary folks against "elite opinion" -- a phrase she used twice.

"I think we've been for the last seven years seeing a tremendous amount of government power and elite opinion behind policies that haven't worked well for hard working Americans," she said.

A bit later she added: "It's really odd to me that arguing to give relief to a vast majority of Americans creates this incredible pushback...Elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that don't benefit" the vast majority of the American people.

Another time before, Senator Byrd denounced a major proposal by a Republican as "dangerous," but Senator Clinton's judgment led her to embrace it. That was the Iraq war. She should have listened to Senator Byrd's 'elite opinion' then as she should have this time, too.

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Ground report from West Virginia

The Berkeley County Democratic Executive Committee headquarters opened on Friday.

Today, Clem and I both attended the opening today of the Barack Obama headquarters in Martinsburg. Clem took the photos at both events.

Obama HQ opening in Martinsburg.

There are now nine Obama for President headquarter offices in West Virginia, staffed by professionals and volunteers. (Senator Clinton has one in Charleston.)

Sen. Jay Rockefeller spoke at today's Martinsburg event about why he feels so strongly that Obama should be elected president.

Senator Rockefeller and Rep. Nick Rahall are stumping across WV for Obama.

Rockefeller at today's event.

Obama's first move in the state was to meet with 15 of the most conservative ministers in southern West Virginia, Rockefeller said.

It was right after the Rev. Wright controversy and despite that, one of the ministers asked if Obama had taken the oath of office on the Koran (an odd question, particularly since so much attention had been given to the statements from the pulpit of Obama's Christian minister).

Instead of dismissing the question, Obama tackled their questions head-on, Rockefeller said. Obama has confidence in himself and is comfortable with who he is.

"I trust him," Rockefeller said several times.

While I worry sometimes about Rockefeller's judgement on FISA and other matters, I do think that as a popular Democratic senator in the state his validation of Obama will carry sway with many voters. The same is true of Rahall, who is extremely popular in southern West Virginia.

I counted more than 65 people there at the time of Rockefeller's arrival in the afternoon. Several people were still out canvassing and others were next door at the Berkeley County Democratic Executive Committee's headquarters since the Obama hq front room was packed during Rockefeller's speech.

The primary is May 13 but early voting has begun in the state.

While there have now been more signs of Sen. Hillary Clinton's support - a few sign wavers showed up at Friday's event - the effort from her campaign has lagged here in West Virginia despite polls showing her with a lead on Obama overall.

The first email to West Virginia supporters from the West Virginia campaign director came two days after the state held its county conventions to select delegates to the state convention.

In my county, Berkeley, it was 50 out of 52 delegates for Obama.

What that shows is the enthusiasm gap in WV between Obama and Clinton. The Democratic chairs and activists are nearly all in support of Obama across the state despite the fact the polls show Clinton leading by a comfortable margin in West Virginia.

That has resulted in Obama volunteers being much more active at voter registrations, canvassing and phonebanking.

However, the demographics in the state - a state predominantly white with a large percentage of seniors due to the state's friendly tax laws for older people (it's become a good state for people to retire to, like Florida but without terrible drivers  and with fewer hurricanes, though the occasional remnants of the storms do cause occasional flooding here - but not like in Florida which also is plagued by Floridians and alligators).

I disagree with the assessment of DHinMI and others who believe Clinton leads because of racism. While it is true that some West Virginians are racist, it is wrong to say that is why Clinton leads. I believe it's much more complicated than that. Saying it is race relies overmuch on a stereotyped view of the state and of Appalachia in general. McDowell County, the literal heart of Appalachia, is represented by an African American in the House of Delegates. I'll admit others, including a commenter on West Virginia Blue, believe like DHinMI that Clinton's lead is due to the race factor. But I believe better of West Virginians and the vast majority of Clinton's supporters. As I mentioned, the demographics of the state means a large number of seniors who have generally fallen towards Clinton live here. But also I believe many West Virginians see Clinton as bringing a third Bill Clinton term, and many West Virginians liked the Big Dog. He carried the state both times even though the state later went to George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000.

Still, there's no denying that the vast majority of Democratic activists in the state, the ones who are out campaign after campaign cycle, are much more behind Obama than Clinton. That is certainly one reason why the Obama campaign has such a lead on organizing at the county and precinct levels than the Clinton campaign.

Fellow West Virginia Blue front pager's wvblueguy's report from another Obama event today in his Mercer County details some of the activity.

Commenters at HillaryClinton.com's West Virginia web page were getting anxious about her campaign's slow start.

* I signed up months ago to volunteer for Hillary here in WV.  I have never been contacted.  I am concerned with the BO presence I am seeing in Charleston and so little Hillary presence.  Let's get things going for Hillary!
by west virginia for hillary at 4/14/2008 7:32:21 PM

o Rally
Does anyone know of any planned rally or event.  There is no organization.
by touche at 4/22/2008 6:10:44 PM

I took the advice of fellow posters and have signed up again as a volunteer.  My son and I are also traveling to PA this weekend to help in Pittsburgh.  We also want to be active here in the Charleston area.  I would like to organize some honk/wave groups at major intersections at least for the weekend/Monday before the May 13th primary.  Plus, can we get some signs around Charleston and at some other key locations in the state?  I just spent 8 hours on the road (traveling in WV) and did not see one Hillary sign.  BO signs are all over the east end of Charleston.(emphasis mine. carnacki)  I don't mean to be negative, but I want those who quietly support Hillary to know that there is strong, active support for her in WV.  Thanks WV campaign staff for doing what you can.  
by west virginia for hillary at 4/17/2008 5:27:22 PM

I am originally from WV and have HAVE campaigned in NY where I live and in Ohio and PENN.  I HAVE TRIED TO GET SOMETHING GOING IN THE MERCER AND SURROUNDING COUNTIES AREA, BUT NOTHING IS HAPPENING.  THE MAYOR OF HINTON IS WITH ME, BUT OBAMA HAS A REAL HEAD START. WE CAN'T LOSE THIS STATE.  THE NEW CAMPAIGN MANAGER HAS NOT RESPONDED TO MY MESSAGES FOR HELP.  ANYTHING GOING ANYONE KNOWS OF PLEASE POST.  WE MUST WORK FAST!!!!!!!QQQQ
by touche at 4/22/2008 12:43:03 PM

I don't believe Clinton will lose, but by the best estimates of those who've really looked at the numbers and the way WV's primary is set up is Clinton gaining +2 to +6 in delegates - nothing to cause a dent in Obama's delegate lead.

Clem, who is a pretty fair judge, estimated the Obama sign wavers outnumbered the Clinton sign wavers by about 4-to-1 on Friday. The sign wavers stretched down the main north-south thoroughfare of the downtown, King Street.

Senator Clinton sign wavers.

Senator Obama supporters

However, at the Berkeley County Democratic Women's Association meeting on Friday night, the Clinton supporters did outnumber the Obama supporters, I'm told, though I did not hear any numbers in attendance.

Gov. Joe Manchin, who as a superdelegate also is said to hold sway over two other superdelegate votes, attended both events and I know supporters of both candidates were trying to impress him. He has remained uncommitted so far.

In addition, the Obama campaign's first television commercial has aired in West Virginia.

In the Eastern Panhandle, which has become an exurb of the D.C. area with half of the work force commuting to D.C., suburban Maryland and northern Virginia each day, the commercial which focuses on gasoline prices should be highly effective. It should also play well in other parts of the state where it can require a lengthy car trip to the nearest supermarket.

I've not seen or heard of any Clinton ads yet in the state, but there would have been some crossover from the Pennsylvania race from both campaigns, particularly in the northern panhandle which is part of the Pittsburgh media market.

UPDATE In debating this with DHinMI at DailyKos, he asked why Obama has done his poorest in Appalachian counties and lower income white voters that have already voted if it's not racism. Regarding Appalachian support for Clinton, it has much more to do with those who are low income or poor feel extremely insecure about the present economy and the future. They are exactly the most likely to find Senator Clinton the most appealing because they see her as a third Bill Clinton term. They felt more secure economically and did better economically when he was president than they do now. Obama is an unknown entity to them. When you're at the end of your rope, you want to reach out for safety not the unknown. Certainly race is a factor with some. And I'm sure the commenters can find many anecdotes to agree that it is race. The problem is writing it all off as race oversimplified it and ignores the much bigger and more complex issues. ... It's not race as nearly much as it is class issues. But that's an even harder issue for people to tackle. UPDATE 2 I also believe once people hear Obama for themselves in Appalachia, they'll find his economic message very appealing to them. The color that matters most to those who feel insecure about the high price of food, gasoline and the loss of jobs is the color green

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Obama winning big in WV county conventions today

I've been posting for quite some time now of the large gap in West Virginia in the grassroots support and county level Democratic activists for Sen. Barack Obama well out of proportion to the polls that showed Sen. Hillary Clinton ahead in West Virginia by a large margin.

Today in Berkeley County, one of the largest counties in the state, 50 of the 52 delegates elected at the county convention today to the state convention in Charleston were Sen. Barack Obama supporters.

Check out Clem's explanation of West Virginia's convoluted primary process. Basically we elected delegates at the county level who'll be electing delegates at the state level. However, the delegates will be selected to the national convention proportional to the votes their candidates received. The primary vote still matters (voting runs from April 23 to May 13 in West Virginia since we have early voting). What this shows is the enthusiasm gap in the state and also could very well signal turnout for the primary. Telephone polls are not the same as going to the ballot box.

West Virginia Blue is getting comments and emails from other counties showing other high support for Obama.

* Morgan County, 30 out of 32 delegates for Obama.

* Ohio County, 75 percent of the crowd were estimated to be Obama supporters. No delegate count included. 40 of 44 delegates for Obama. Hat tip to WV26003.

* Pocahontas County, 100 percent of delegates for Obama.

* Greenbrier County, 25 out of 28 delegates for Obama. Three uncommitted.

* Kanawha County sounded more chaotic and I haven't got a report on numbers there yet.

Most of my afternoon was tied up in the Valley district of Berkeley County.

There was a line to get in to the Berkeley County Democratic headquarters. It took a while to get in, but the local Democrats ran it very smoothly, asking the people their names and precinct to know which district to put them in. There are six districts in the county. I'm in the Valley district. There, of 24 people who attended, one woman said she was for Clinton although she was adamant she would vote for Obama in November since it appeared to her he'd be the nominee. The other 23 were all Obama supporters.

Ken Collinson was elected to chair the county convention. Ken was the only one to raise his hand up to vote against him doing it.

Under the rules, we had to pick four women and four men to serve as delegates to the state convention in Charleston on June 13 and 14 (fixed where I left XX in rough draft. Carnacki). We had four women who said they could attend and all were Obama supporters so we elected them as a slate for our district. We had seven men who were nominated for the four delegate positions and so we had each of them tell a little about themselves. All said they were absolutely committed to Obama. One of the men has volunteered for the Obama campaign in other states and is going to Pennsylvania next weekend to canvass. Another began the veterans Camp Kerry that drew many veterans to volunteer for the Kerry-Edwards campaign. Another was our local Democrat of the year and an active volunteer. The fourth man has been active with the Obama campaign. We also had a diverse slate demographically of older and younger Democrats. Two of the women and one of the men are African Americans.

The meeting hall had been jammed packed with bodies. I estimated the crowd at one point to have been about 150 people and in the narrow long space of a former clothing shop that was a tight squeeze, particularly on a warm day.

After most of the delegates had been selected, many people left, which was fortunate because I don't think the air conditioning was working.

One of the six districts had four women delegates but did not have any men who could commit to the state convention. So those seats and two at large seats were put up for a county wide vote as well as two at large seats for women delegates. Interestingly, two women who have long been active in local Democratic activities were not selected over two enthusiastic Obama supporters. In the past, attending the state convention has been seen as an award for party participation. We were able to get one more of our men on one of the six remaining slots for male delegates.

I was told one of the men, a long time Democrat and active volunteer in campaign after campaign, one of those older gentlemen there every weekend rain or shine, was a Clinton supporter. I do not know if that is true. He's on a county executive committee and under the county rules are not supposed to publicly say one way or the other. However, if he were supporting his dog for president I would have still voted for him to go. Others apparently felt the same way and he was elected. Would I have felt the same way if it wasn't so overwhelming Obama? I don't know.

But it was.

Here's a photo taken by one of our local Democrats, Ryan Frankenberry as we elected the two at large seats for the women. This is nearly two hours after the county convention began, iirc, and most of the crowd has left.

This is what democracy looks like - at least at the sweaty, county level at least.

Update [2008-4-12 20:0:27 by Carnacki]: More on the county convention and state convention process at the West Virginia Democrats site here pdf.

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Obama, Clinton campaigns in wild and wonderful WV

I wrote earlier at MyDD about the contradictory nature of West Virginia and the West Virginia presidential primary race.

Yesterday provided a great example.

In my earlier post

West Virginia is a state of contradictions. Take the Eastern Panhandle, where one of the fastest growing counties in the country is located. It has become an outer suburb of Washington, D.C., with large McMansions built not far from dilapidated house trailers. Or McDowell County, the core of Appalachia. If any county fits the stereotypical view, it is McDowell. Yet it is the home of State Del. Clif Moore, an African American and a defender of a bill to extend anti-discrimination protection to gay people.

And a state that touts its natural beauty also is busy allowing the coal companies to literally destroy the mountains and hollows, using more explosive force than was used at Hiroshima through mountaintop removal.

To continue forward with the contradictory nature of the state,  polls consistently have showed Sen. Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead if she faced John McCain in the general and against Sen. Barack Obama in the primary. Yet two of the state's biggest political names, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Nick Rahall have endorsed Barack Obama and the grassroots support has seemed to consistently favor Obama (here's one example).

While Obama is trailing in all of the polls in West Virginia by a large margin, the Obama supporters appear to be more active than the Sen. Hillary Clinton supporters. Whether that will translate into an Obama win in the primary is doubtful, but if Obama is the nominee it will give him a better ramp up for the general election race than Al Gore or John Kerry had since their races were decided long before the West Virginia primary mattered.

The West Virginia Democratic county conventions are on April 12. It's a new and confusing process to many to pick delegates to the state convention in Charleston.

The West Virginia Democratic Party has done a solid job of informing Democrats statewide of the convention process through emails, news releases and state party field workers.

The state party also has been sending out emails of organizing meetings and events for both parties.

Chelsea Clinton appeared in West Virginia on Saturday for three campaign events, including guest speaker at the West Virginia Young Democrats Convention.

Here's an excerpt of the coverage from Huntington:

Huntington, WV (HNN) - A poised, relaxed former First Daughter spent approximately 75 minutes answering questions from Marshall University student and community members. Unlike many speakers on behalf of candidates, Chelsea Clinton delivered specific and technical answers, rather than simple generalities.

Here's from her appearance at WVU Tech:

- A second President Clinton, she said, would "immediately start greening" the federal government - making government buildings and operations more environmentally friendly and creating jobs in the process - and ultimately cutting emissions 20 to 30 percent.

- On the country's future energy use, she said there is an "abundance of incredible natural resources (including coal) in our country." More emphasis must be placed on developing clean-burning coal. Her mother, she added, would "take away tax breaks" given in 2005 to energy companies and install a "windfall profits tax."

Here's from her final event at the West Virginia Young Democrats convention:

Chelsea Clinton ended a whole day in the Mountain State on Friday talking bread-and-butter issues with a crowd at the Charleston Civic Center, in support of her mother's presidential campaign.

At the kickoff of the West Virginia Young Democrats convention, the 28-year-old Clinton said that she's very proud of her father, the nation's 42nd president, but thinks her mother would be better in the job.

"She's more prepared than he was," she said of her mother, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

snip

Travis Mollohan, a district coordinator for the Young Democrats, said he was somewhat disappointed in the event's turnout of about 130 people.

"I had hoped to see more young people here," he said. "That may [be due] to the fact that more young people are committed to Obama."

The organization reached out to both campaigns, but Clinton's visit logistically worked out for the start of the convention, said Young Democrats President Rod Snyder.

"[Chelsea Clinton] is one of the most visible young Democrats in the country," he said. "Everyone's excited, regardless of who they're supporting."

Snyder, whose father former State Sen. Herb Snyder is seeking to regain an office he held previously, really nailed it with this:

He said the close Democratic primary race is energizing the party, especially young Democrats.

Meanwhile, the Obama supporters held a dozen meetings across the state for organizing efforts for the May 13 primary. Another half dozen other upcoming meetings are on the schedule.

For the record, I'll support whoever the Democratic nominee is.

I attended the Obama meetup yesterday in Martinsburg where a group of of Obama grassroots supporters have met for the past eight weeks. I've canvassed with several of Obama's supporters in past elections.

There were 30 people there for the two hour meeting on a sunny spring day.

The new regional field director from the Obama campaign introduced herself. She's a West Virginia native who worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria.

Since there were new faces - myself included - at the meeting, they had people introduce themselves and explain why they supported Obama.

I wrote down a few of their words and will include a bit of demographic information about the speaker for identification purposes.

"The America I came home to is a country so different. I'm here to take back my country," a white female in her 30s who lived in London from 2000-2003.

"He seems to keep everything on a positive note," a retired white man from Martinsburg, who so far has volunteered in four states for Obama, including Texas.

"I remember FDR. He was my hero growing up. I remember JFK. He was my children's hero growing up.... I think Barack Obama would make a wonderful president," a retired nurse, white female.

"My wife was killed in the Pentagon on 9/11," a middleaged white man, who said the federal government squandered the unity to go after those responsible. I had trouble writing down everything he said because it was touching.

"In the beginning I was for Clinton, but things aren't going so well. I don't like where the campaign is going. I want to know more about Obama," older white woman.

"He's got all the right ideas," a middleaged white woman and canvassing buddy who was a former Dennis Kucinich supporter.

"Hillary always says, 'I will do this. I will do that.' But Barack always says, 'We will do this,'" a middleaged white male and husband of my canvassing buddy, who also described himself as a yellow-dog Democrat.

My blogmate Clem does an excellent job explaining the West Virginia Democratic primary process.

One final thought... if this process seems kindof sortof messed up to you... you know, like the fact that the delegate count could end up being a rather inexact reflection of the popular vote... two things to keep in mind:

(1) These were the rules everyone knew about at the beginning of the process... there were no strong voices advocating for more little "d" democracry inside the W.Va. Democratic party before this nominating process started. If it bothers you, start voicing your concerns immediately after election day to change how things happen next time around.

(2) No one expected the W.Va. primary outcome to matter when these rules were put together. The rules were drafted  with a major concern about who gets to attend the convention instead of who they represent once they get there.

He also breaks down the math in a separate post to explain that even if Clinton runs away with the West Virginia primary vote, she'll most likely still pick up either 0 or 2 delegates.

The W.Va. delegate plan requires a victory of more than 58.3% of the vote in a single congressional district for a two delegate margin in a congressional district. A state-wide vote total of 55% or more is needed to pick-up a two delegate at-large advantage.

At this point, I give the Clinton 15 Obama 13 scenario a 70% likelihood of occurring with the remaining 30% being a 14-14 delegate tie.

Don't forget upcoming events:

April 12, 2008 : County Democratic Conventions in each county to elect Delegates to the State Convention. All Democrats welcome in their respective county. Call your County Chair or the State Party (304) 342-8121 for location information.
...
April 22, 2008 : Last Day to Register to Vote in the Primary Election.

April 23, 2008 : Early Voting Begins

May 13, 2008 : PRIMARY ELECTION

There's more...

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