WEST VIRGINIA 13 Electoral Votes
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The Democratic campaign here started later than in the battleground states, in early September.  Democrats put together a credible organization including six regional offices, more than a dozen satellite offices and about 30 staff, but had limited resources and visits.  Sen. Biden rallied at Capitol St. in downtown Charleston on Oct. 24, and former President Clinton rallied at Word Memorial Park in Beckley on Nov. 1; Hillary Clinton also made a visit but it was for a congressional candidate.

Republicans largely ignored the state until an ARG poll Oct. 4-8 showed Obama ahead.  CNN reported on Oct. 10 that Gov. Palin had "scheduled a bus tour for Sunday [Oct. 12] through West Virginia, a state that’s been leaning red throughout this presidential race."  Instead of the bus tour however, Michael Tomasky of the Guardian reported that, "The Alaska governor and family members spent about 25 minutes at Tri-State Airport in Kenova," where they were greeted by about a dozen supporters, before heading on to Ohio.
  (McCain did come close with his Oct. 31 visit to Steubenville, OH).

Toward the end,
the race appeared close enough that Republicans were forced to put some resources into the state.  There were RNC ads, radio ads (1, 2), and, in the last weekend, robocalls alleging that Obama would backrupt the coal industry (3).  West Virginia was also among the states the NRA targeted with its advertising campaign.  (In an interesting footnote, shortly after the election the Charleston Daily Mail ran an article headlined "Gun sales surge after Obama presidential victory").

The Nader campaign had a presence in the state.  Nader spoke and signed books at the Mountainlair Student Union at West Virginia University in Morgantown on Sept. 24.  The campaign had an office in
Morgantown, and in the latter part of October announced Charlottesville as one of the markets where it would be running radio ads.

Turnout was lower than expected, lower than in 2004, and in fact the second lowest of any state (50.6% of voting eligible population; only Hawaii had a lower turnout rate).  While there were competitive races for Commissioner of Agriculture, Attorney General and Supreme Court, the relative lack of competitive local races -- for state legislature, sheriff, and so forth -- and the lopsided U.S. Senate and gubernatorial campaigns may have dissuaded some people from voting. 

When the votes were counted, McCain prevailed by a percentage margin very similar to Bush's margin over Kerry in 2004.  McCain narrowly carried Kanawha County, the largest county, winning 40,952 votes (49.65%) to 40,594 (49.22%) for Obama.  The seven counties Obama carried were: Boone, Braxton, Jefferson, Marion, McDowell, Monongalia and Webster.

Jake Stump. "
Gun sales surge after Obama presidential victory." Charleston Daily Mail, Nov. 14, 2008.

Newspaper Endorsements
Charleston Gazette  (Oct. 6)
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Times West Virginian [Fairmont]  (Oct. 26)
Herald-Dispatch [Huntington]  (Oct. 18)
Charleston Daily Mail
The Inter-Mountain (Elkins)
Martinsburg Journal (Oct. 26; same as Parkersburg endorsement)
Parkersburg News and Sentinel  (Oct. 19)
Weirton Daily Times  (Oct. 26; v. similar to Parkersburg endorsement)
Wheeling Intelligencer  (Oct. 16)
Wheeling News-Register

Copyright © 2008  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action