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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Huckabee wins West Virginia

It's no small thing that the Clintons have beaten Barack Obama by a big margin, 67% to 26%, in yesterday's West Virginia primary, but if losing West Virginia means danger in the general election, John McCain has at least as much to worry about as Obama.

West Virginia is one of those quirky states where the Democrats and Republicans follow different procedures for choosing their party's presidential nominee. As the New York Times website shows, West Virginia held a Republican caucus on February 5 and a Republican primary yesterday. The results deserve our attention.

In yesterday's Republican primary, which determined nine pledged delegates, McCain won 76% of the vote. That means that in a completely uncompetitive primary, 24% of Republican primary voters showed up just to vote against their party's presumptive nominee. (I noted the same trend last week in Indiana and North Carolina.)

But in the February 5 Republican caucus, when McCain faced active competition with eighteen delegates at stake, the results were staggering. These are the vote totals of the delegates at the state convention, as shown by the New York Times:

Mike Huckabee56751.5%
Mitt Romney52147.4%
John McCain121.1%

Some readers may say that it is a cheap parlor trick to compare Obama's 26% in the West Virginia primary to McCain's 1.1% in the same state's caucus. And maybe it is. The better comparison may be to the Republican primary in Utah, a reliably Republican state where one candidate, Mitt Romney, was favored by voters from the start. In Utah's February 5 primary, McCain got 5.4% of the vote to Romney's 89.5%. Does this mean that, having lost Utah so dramatically, McCain cannot hope to carry it in November? Certainly not. And neither does the Clintons' lopsided victory in West Virginia rule it out for Obama. Keep these facts in mind when you hear all the silly talk about Obama's 'electability'.

So that's what Obama's big defeat in West Virginia doesn't mean. As for what it does mean, your guess is as good as mine.



Anonymous 42 said...

Sophistry? I expect better from you. It is what it is...Obama got his doors blown off.

I think we will have a problem in November. There is a disconnect between him & a very large portion of the Party, the white, lower & middle classes. These are the same voters the GOP has successfully wooed since 1994. I'm worried.

1:31 AM, May 15, 2008

Blogger Jeff Hussein Strabone said...

Where's the sophistry? I said I had no idea what Barack Obama's gigantic defeat in West Virginia meant.

Getting to the point, yes the West Virginia result does bother me. Daily Kos has some pretty convincing data that Obama has a distinctly Appalachian problem, as opposed to the broader problem described by 42.

I read somewhere that Obama should give another Philadelphia-style speech, this time on class rather than race. That is a great suggestion that I hope works its way to him. However he does it, I am confident that he will find a way to reach out to the voters in question.

Elsewhere, particularly west of the Mississippi, Obama is doing fine among white voters. Oregon was 93.45% white in 2000, according to Wikipedia. The latest polls show him beating the Clintons there by 54 to 43, and 55 to 35.

2:16 AM, May 15, 2008

Anonymous 42 said...

I hope everyone who SHOULD vote for him, does. As much as I think Hillary would be a better candidate in November, it is time for us to rally around Senator Obama and defeat the evil empire.

5:44 PM, May 15, 2008


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