Monday, July 09, 2012

But we don't even have a coal mine in Floyd County, do we?

Let's get down to the heart of the matter, with an extended excerpt that chillingly links Floyd County Quasi-Democrats with those residing in (aargh) West Virginia.

What’s eating Appalachia? Many Democrats in the region seem to hate their president (Lexington column, in The Economist)

... But West Virginia’s distaste for the president, Mrs Capito argues, is “more than just a policy disagreement—it’s at the core of who we are.” The meddling bureaucracy of the EPA, she says, suggests a worrying disrespect for property rights, while Mr Obama’s enthusiasm for issuing debt offends thrifty locals. Jim Webb, a senator from neighbouring Virginia, has noted that much of the population of Appalachia is of Scots-Irish descent. Such voters, he says, often feel snubbed by Democrats who set little store by their “guns and religion”, as Mr Obama once memorably put it. (This may help to explain the president’s poor showing in primaries in Arkansas and Oklahoma, which also have big Scots-Irish populations.) Mr Obama’s recent embrace of gay marriage, says Mr Wade, was reason enough in itself for many in West Virginia to sour on him.

Neil Gillies, chairman of the Democratic Party in Hardy County, agrees that bureaucratic interference and cultural affronts have sapped the president’s popularity. But he sees Mr Obama chiefly as the victim of demographic trends of longer standing. West Virginia (like most of the rest of Appalachia) is older, whiter, less educated, more religious and more rural than most of America—attributes that correlate with voting Republican. As a result, the Democrats’ grip on the state has gradually been slackening. West Virginia has voted Republican at the presidential level since 2000. Its congressional delegation is tending that way, too. And Democrats have survived in state government only by disavowing the national party, as Messrs Manchin and Tomblin have.

Then there is the question of race. West Virginia is 93% white—a full 30 points more than the national average. According to exit polls at the state’s Democratic primary in 2008, race was an important factor for a fifth of white voters. Of those, 84% plumped for Mrs Clinton. It seems safe to assume that not everyone who felt that way confessed as much to the pollsters.

Mike Teets, the only Republican on the Hardy County Commission, denies that race has anything to do with local antipathy towards Mr Obama. But he is concerned that the president may be a Muslim, secretly in cahoots with Osama bin Laden, whose killing he could have faked. He also wonders whether the president might be gay. Wild accusations like these, Mr Obama’s supporters maintain, stem from sublimated racism.

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