Though I currently hang my hat in Athens, GA, I have mentioned on the blog on numerous occasions in the past that West By-God Virginia is my home state, the place of my birth. Yes, that makes me a hillbilly. You can call me one, and I won’t be offended. Trust me—I’ve heard every West Virginia joke ever told and have told a few myself as well.
So I have to say I was pleased to read this over at FiveThirtyEight.com which discusses the distinct (if remote) possibility that the Mountain State may turn purple this time around and that Senator Barack Obama’s campaign is actually committing some resources to winning the state, even though Mr. Bush won it in the last two elections. West Virginia had a tradition of being a Democratic stronghold—it went for Carter in 1980 and Dukakis in 1988—and according to Obama for America State Director Tom Vogel would have clung to Gore in 2000 only Al ignored the state. (Either Vogel or the author, Sean Quinn, sort of left out the fact that a buttload of coal and timber money from the Southern part of WV went towards funding ads scaring the populace into thinking Gore was going to take away their guns as well—but that’s just nitpicking on my part.)
To be honest, I haven’t completely signed on to West Virginia’s born-again blue status because as a native son, I’m skeptical that a majority of voters in WV could bring themselves to vote for a man with a slightly darker hue to his skin than his opponent. The only poll I’ve seen had Obama at 50 and McCain at 42, which I found immediately suspect; the numbers in the 538 article have McCain winning by 0.1% which seems a bit more accurate to me (although still a little closer than reality).
According to today’s New York Times, Team Obama is making a campaign swing to the Mountain State which will feature either Obama or running mate Senator Joe Biden, with a surge of spending to follow. Here’s the bit in the article that made me laugh out loud:
“West Virginia is real,” said Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe. “We have been watching it for a long time.”
West Virginia is real? Well, that takes an enormous burden off my mind.