May 14, 2008

West Virginia Might Be the State That Looks Least Like America

Racially, educationally, in terms of its economy, in terms of the age of its population, it is an outlier. Something that you'd think more people might have brought up on tv last night when interpreting the supposed larger meanings of West Virginia's vote.

Posted by armand at May 14, 2008 10:34 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Politics


That may be true, but look at Ohio and Pennsylvania and the Clinton victories there. Emphasis on rural-urban divide. Look at Indiana, even though she pulled out a squeaker. Look at Missouri (Obama won but look at the way he won). These facts further emphasize the rural-urban divide that doomed Gore and Kerry and will doom Obama. He consistently loses in the countryside of America and if that is not America then what is? The Democrats ignore this at their own peril and paint themselves in the elitist corner once again. Explaining away West Virginia and dismissing it does not make the reality go away. What is the justification for all of these rural counties voting for Clinton? Are they all outliers that need be ignored? Clinton could just as easily make that argument about the cities and college towns where Obama wins. Obama supporters are apparently blind to these facts and ignoring them does not change them. He cannot win the presidency losing Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Impossible.

Posted by: Ho chi Minh at May 14, 2008 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Why is the countryside of America more American than the rest of America (where, you know, most Americans actually live).

And actually yes, it's entirely possible he could lose those states and still win the presidency (though I expect he will not lose them all).

Empirically, the problem is taking results from a Clinton/Obama race and suggesting that for some reason those will be mirrored in an Obama/McCain race. Last I checked there were a few differences between Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

And excepting yesterday, a lot of the so-called problem demographics became less problematic as the campaign went on. In terms of, say, poor whites and gun owners his trend line improved from Ohio to PA to Indiana. The more he campaigns the more he connects with those voters (who quite understandably know the Clintons but not much about Obama).

Clearly there are demographics that favor Obama and there are demographics that favor Clinton. As it happens those who favor Obama have turned out in greater numbers and that's why he will win this race. I'm not saying everyone loves him over her. I am saying that this is an atypical state that is indicative of certain strengths she has - but that WV's vote doesn't tell us much more than what we already knew.

Posted by: Armand at May 14, 2008 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

1) I never said the countryside of America was more America than the cities. I was just trying to refute your statement. Your claim at the top of your post is West Virginia looks least like America. This claim is absurd to begin with because it begs the question what is America. It is not just the cities or just the countryside it is both and they both must be taken into account.

2)To win the presidency and lose those states he would need to win Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Missouri, Virginia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. I think that at least one of those states are not going his way in the fall.

3)Let's not ignore racism. It is alive and well. I agree that the same trends will not be mirrored in an Obama/McCain race but the question is will Clinton voters cross over to support McCain because of racial and other social issues. We will have to wait until November to see but my tentative answer is yes.

4)His trend line improved but he still lost every race. How will he overcome McCain in those states? People are familiar with Obama by now. If not they are living on Mars.

5)Clearly there are demographics that favor Clinton and unfortunately they are poor, uneducated, and ignorant and that group will kill the Democrats in November if Obama is the nominee. You are correct to say that the results tell us no more than we already know.. . and what we know is that rural America will not vote for Barack Obama in November.

Posted by: ho chi minh at May 14, 2008 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

another outlying factor: according to this piece, a quarter of voters in WV cited race in itself as a factor in their votes, compared to 10 percent in NJ, PA, and OH. bear in mind that these numbers almost certainly reflect significant underreporting.

that same piece makes the point well: gore didn't benefit from the GOP-hatred going on among a significant majority of this country, and the elitist label suited kerry far more than it ever will obama (and the country still hadn't come to identify GOP policies with Bush's failed presidency in 2004 to the extent it does now). that hillary, long a proven ally to them, can take a majority of rust belt white low income types as against obama (who has demonstrated more commitment to their concerns, but can't manage to get that fact into a debate when he's being asked, in so many words, why he hates white people and amurrica) says nothing about mccain's ability to take those votes come november, after obama has had six months atop a unified party whose policies a supermajority of this country prefers to run against a candidate who people don't yet seem to realize is running on a platform of I'll Do Bush, Only Better.

Posted by: moon at May 14, 2008 01:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ho Chi Minh - I still think you are making a mistake to assume that Obama stacks up against McCain the same way he stacks up against Clinton (I agree with Moon). In current polling against McCain Obama wins poor Americans quite easily. And just because PA Democrats liked Clinton more than Obama, I don't see that as a reason to think PA as a whole might not like Obama better than McCain. For that matter I expect him to win there.

And I think you really overstate how familiar people are with Obama. The people who watch Hardball are. But I think lots of Americans know ... well, he's black, the Rev. Wright stuff, and probably not much else. I think the trendlines got better in PA b/c they did a ton of advertising and campaigning there (unlike in WV). With the kind of money and campaign he's going to have, I think he's got a lot of room to grow - unlike Clinton who is very well known, and is distrusted by 60% of the electorate.

And as to rural America - well that entirely depends on how you define it. Obviously he's done well in parts of rural America (going all the way back to Iowa and South Carolina). Obviously he's going to lose a lot of the rural states in the fall, but that's in many cases due to enduring demographics and partisanship, not Obama. A lot of those are just traditionally Republican states. Will he encounter problems in parts of rural America? Sure. Most definitely. But I think he'll do well enough to win in November. And as much as you might think his candidacy will hurt the party in parts of the country, the same is true of Clinton in other parts of the country.

Posted by: Armand at May 14, 2008 07:19 PM | PERMALINK

An interesting fact from yesterday's election in WV. Obama got 26% of democrats, and McCain got 76% of Repub;icans. BUT Obama got more total votes than McCain.

Posted by: binky at May 14, 2008 07:30 PM | PERMALINK
Post a comment

Remember personal info?