West Virginia and Obama. Ugh.

From the Financial Times:

Like most people in Mingo County, West Virginia, Leonard Simpson is a lifelong Democrat. But given a choice between Barack Obama and John McCain in November, the 67-year-old retired coalminer would vote Republican.

“I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist,” said Mr Simpson, drawing on a cigarette outside the fire station in Williamson, a coalmining town of 3,400 people surrounded by lush wooded hillsides.


None of the 22 Democrats interviewed by the Financial Times at the Clinton rally would commit themselves to voting for Mr Obama if he became the nominee, and half said they definitely would not. The depth of opposition is particularly striking considering that Mingo County is one of the most Democratic places in West Virginia, having cast about 85 per cent of its votes for the party in the 2006 midterm elections. If Mr Obama cannot win there in November, he has little chance of carrying the state.

Most people questioned said they mistrusted Mr Obama because of doubts about his patriotism and “values”, stemming from his cosmopolitan background, his exotic name and the controversy surrounding “anti-American” sermons by Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor. Several people said they believed he was a Muslim – an unfounded rumour that has circulated on the internet for months – despite the contradiction with his 20-year membership of Mr Wright’s church in Chicago. Others mentioned his refusal to wear a Stars and Stripes badge and controversial remarks by his wife, Mich­elle, who des­cribed America as “mean” and implied that she had never been proud of the US until her husband ran for president.

Fortunately, Obama’s performance in WV’s primary is irrelevant in deciding who the nominee will be. Even if Clinton were to win all of that states’ 39 delegates, Obama would still have a net gain in delegates since Indiana and North Carolina.

Of course, it makes sense for Clinton and her surrogates to campaign there as hard as they can in hope that a 40 point Clinton win in WV will change perception about Obama’s ability to win in November. After all, they tell us, since 1916, no president has won the White House without winning WV.

Whatever. Obama will lose WV in November, and probably by a wide margin. He can make up that ground in other states like CO that would be hard for Clinton to win.

What gets me about this article is the aggressive ignorance of the WV voters that were interviewed. They seem to be taking anonymous e-mails that bash Obama, based on clear misinformation quite seriously. Do they believe everything they get in their inboxes?

I’m wondering if WV residents communicate with Nigerians who want to put money in their bank accounts at a higher rate than people in the rest of the country do.

If a Democrat votes for Clinton over Barack, he’s not a racist any more than a Democrat who votes for Obama or Clinton is a sexist. Sure there are some who will vote against either candidate over gender or race issues, but I think those kinds of voters are the exception rather than the rule.

But when zero of 22 Democrats unable to state that they will vote for Obama when he is the nominee, I have to think that racism is playing a large role in determining for whom to vote.



8 responses to “West Virginia and Obama. Ugh.

  1. Fine – let McCain have West Virginia. The fact of the matter is, Obama has a real chance of winning Virginia. I expect our high military population will help McCain tremendously, but the DC suburbs, a good part of Richmond (where I live) and a big African American population state-wide seem to potentially counter it. Add to that that three Virginians (current Governor Tim Kaine, former Governor and Senate shoo-in Mark Warner and Senator Jim Webb) seem to be on Obama’s VP list, and you could see the Old Dominion swing to blue this time around.

    Let McCain (and tomorrow, Hillary) have West Virginia. Fuck ’em.

  2. Oh, please let Obama’s VP be Mark Warner!!!

  3. Obama could do a lot worse than Mark Warner. He was a very popular governor here – leaving office as a Democrat in a traditionally red state with a 68-percent approval rating – and is great on the stump.

    He’s personable (he was no stranger to one Richmond bar where I hang out occasionally), was a very successful businessman (having founded a little company called Nextel) and could really cement Virginia behind Obama.

  4. Another little known fact about Mark Warner: He was born in Indianapolis! He was my early favorite in the presidential race and I would be giddy beyond belief if he were to be Obama’s running mate!

  5. I had no idea he was born in Indianapolis. He was a great governor here, and is still much loved. Jim Gilmore – Warner’s predecessor as Governor who is running against him in the Senate race for John Warner’s seat – is on a suicide mission.

  6. What about Virginian Jim Webb for VP?

    He has the national security thing going for him and he seems like he might be a great running mate for Obama.

    I wonder if his sexist writings might possibly sink his chances.

    But I like to hear that VA may be in play this year. If we boost VA’s AA turnout by 30% over 2004 (something that seems doable), then VA is blue.

  7. Jim Webb could be a solid choice – he’s been a good Senator, he’s popular here, strong military and national security background, former republican, and he can be an attack dog.

    The problem is, he can be a bit too much of an attack dog – he seems to have a temper that gets away from him at times – anyone remember his Rose Garden encounter with Bush before he was even sworn in?? Still, his military experience counters that of McCain and if Obama wants someone who isn’t afraid to stand up and fight (quite possibly, literally) Webb could be a great selection.

    His novels have contained some sexist language, and he had some disquieting thoughts in the 80’s about women in the military, but it didn’t really come into play in the Senate race – and that race is probably a good indicator of what Democrats might face in the Fall. Up until the last two weeks when it became clear that Allen was sunk, they threw everything at Webb.

    I’d love to see Obama select a Virginian, but I think with a large African American population across the state, and expecting that African Americans will turn out in BIG numbers, as well as rock solid support in the DC suburbs and the City of Richmond, Obama may think – reasonably so – that he’s got a good shot at winning here without a Virginian on the ticket.

  8. Don’t be misled by the shallow media who brought their cameras and microphones straight to the place they would most likely find the stereotypes they came searching for: less educated white folks in the poorest counties who would reinforce their image of WV.

    Where were the interviews with all the folks in Charleston or Morgantown or other cities where Obama signs are in the yards?

    Yes, Clinton blew out Obama in WV, but she (and her husband) campaigned here like crazy; Obama showed up once when it mattered and once last minute. He’s got to invest here similar to JFK in the Sixties; he can win folks over if he tries.

    Fact is, the 2 out of 10 WV voters who (via exit polls) said race played a factor in their vote is very, very close to the same % as in PA, Missouri, Ohio and other states. Even liberal CT reported 15% of their citizens using race as a primary factor. This is a U.S. problem, not just a WV or Appalachian problem. Everyone has their “2 out of 10” problem.

    The question is, what are people doing about it? It’s in your backyard as well, so let’s stop painting more stereotypes and begin tearing them down.

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