West Virginia's presidential primaries and the war on Obama
A recent poll on this year's West Virginia primary elections
A new Metro News poll of West Virginia voters shows Trump and Sanders with large leads:
A Metro News West Virginia Poll shows Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders with significant leads among likely presidential primary voters in the state.
The survey by REPASS Research has Trump with 40 percent compared with 20 percent for his nearest rival, Texas Senator Ted Cruz. On the Democrat side, Sanders leads Hillary Clinton by nearly two-to-one, 57 percent to 29 percent.
On the Republican side:
after Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is at 15 percent, Ben Carson at ten percent, Ohio Governor John Kasich at six percent and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at four percent. Bush withdrew from the race Saturday night after a disappointing fourth place finish in South Carolina.
And for Democrats, the poll shows Sanders with a lead in all age groups:
Sanders’ biggest strength is with young people. However, he has majority support in all age categories except seniors. Among voters 65 and older, Sanders’ lead is 43 percent to 36 percent.
I'm a bit concerned that the number polled ( 411 registered likely voters) is a bit small. It leads to + or - of almost 5% but even with that margin for error Trump and Sanders would appear to be the current choice of West Virginia voters.
Revisiting the 2008 West Virginia Democratic primary and the war on Obama
Yesterday's Washington Post provides an interesting analysis of the Metro News poll's results. The analysis explains the poll's context:
Since 2008, Democrats in Appalachia have been driven into near-extinction by Republicans who marshaled voters against the Obama administration's EPA and its ballyhooed "war on coal." Just this month, the newly Republican state legislature in West Virginia passed right-to-work legislation over the Democratic governor's veto.
Noting Sander's lead in the poll, the article uses it to speculates on the reasons for Clinton's primary victory over Obama in the 2008 primary:
Sanders's success here . . . . raises a question about how much of the 2008 Clinton landslide had to do with race. In exit polls that year, just 22 percent of West Virginia voters admitted that race was a factor in their decisions. They voted for Clinton over Obama by 70 points. Four years later, the incumbent president won just 57 percent in the West Virginia primary, with substantial numbers of Democrats casting protest votes for a white inmate.
The results of the 2008 and 2012 West Virginia Democratic primaries have always bothered me for what they appear to be saying about the animosity toward Obama in this state. While he is now blamed for the "war on coal," that was not always the case. For example, if you go back to the 2008 primary, Obama was probably friendlier to the coal industry than Clinton yet the reaction to him was much more hostile. Why? Grist recently published an excellent article by Richard L. Revesz and Jack Lienke which deals with this issue: "How Obama went from coal’s top cheerleader to its No. 1 enemy." The long article chronicles how, despite Obama's early attempts at a moderate course, his opposition has blamed him for all that has gone wrong in coal and opposed him at every point. The authors see what Obama has been doing as the culmination of the work of the previous 50 years:
Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that those legal responsibilities were not created by the current president. Instead, they are the product of five decades of legislative and regulatory efforts by prior administrations of both parties.
But built into the history of this "war" is the notion that Obama doesn't like coal and, in the case of our "newspapers," is personally and irrationally out to get the industry and West Virginians. The locals have even questioned his motives: for example, they've argued that "it's a vendetta" in at least two editorials. (See here and here, for example.) Revesz and Lienke point to a similar motivation:
“War” critics, though, focus less on the benefits of the regulations than on the Obama administration’s motives for issuing them. Rather than an earnest effort to protect public health, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sees the EPA’s initiatives as an “elitist” and “ideological crusade,” led by officials who simply “don’t like” coal.
The Washington Post notes the racism in the 2008 election and I certainly think that's a factor but I think there's more that explains out state's hatred for all-things-Obama. If I can get my ideas together I hope to write about this sometime in the future.