Who would have guessed a couple months — or even weeks — ago that Republicans would settle on their presidential nominee before the Democrats?
But here we are: West Virginia is voting today and the only drama involves the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders contest that the Vermonter has vowed to drag on until the July convention in Philadelphia.
“Don’t let anyone tell you this campaign is over,” Sanders told supporters in New Jersey on Monday. Clinton has been careful not to call for Sanders to drop out, but she’s training her rhetorical fire on Donald Trump.
West Virginia Democrats — 37 delegates (29 pledged, 8 superdelegates)
This redoubt of flinty mountain Democrats was an overwhelming win for Clinton in her 2008 primary race against Barack Obama, but this time she is struggling.
One reason is her assertion in a March town hall that she was going to “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Coal has been rapidly on the decline in the Mountaineer State — more from low natural gas prices than government action — and Clinton’s comments struck a nerve.
She apologized during a hostile coal country visit, and the comments likely are contributing to her polling deficit here. But Clinton is also facing a much different Democratic Party eight years on, with so many mountain conservatives crossing over to the GOP, leaving a more liberal core for Sanders to rally. West Virginia is also overwhelmingly white, which plays to Sanders’ strengths.
More registered Democrats than registered Republicans voted early, as turnout smashed records, but the party registration gap has closed considerably.
Candidate Visits: Sanders was in McDowell County, Charleston and Morgantown on Thursday. Clinton was in Williamson on May 2 and Charleston on May 3.
Links: Clinton braces for another loss in a primary season she feels she’s already won. (USA Today)
Six of the state’s superdelegates have declared their support for Clinton, while DNC member Chris Regan has felt the Bern. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
Clinton said her advisers told her to skip ahead to California, but she wanted to come to more hostile coal country out of “a moral obligation.” (CNN)