West Virginia Primary Predictions

The pundits declared the Democratic nomination process over after Barack Obama’s landslide win in North Carolina last week but, technically at least, neither candidate has sewn it up. West Virginia is today’s stop in this seemingly endless ride and Hillary Clinton is expected to win big.

The Polls:

The folks at RealClearPolitics haven’t bothered to tally up an average but all the polls show a blowout:

West Virginia Primary Polls

Let’s throw out ARG and Rasmussen, which are two months old. That leaves an “average” Clinton margin of 37 points.


West Virginia couldn’t be better set up for Clinton; its demographics make Ohio and Pennsylvania look like Seattle and San Francisco. The only real question is how much the media’s pounding on the inevitability of Obama’s nomination will depress Clinton turnout and motivate “I’ll show them” turnout on the part of Obama supporters. My guess is that some of that will happen but that we’ll still see a Clinton margin of 30 points or more.

Let’s call it: Clinton 72, Obama 28

Will it Matter?

There are only 28/39* delegates at stake and Obama will get some of them even if Clinton pulls off an 80-20 victory, so it won’t matter much from that standpoint. If things go as expected and there’s a Clinton blowout, though, it will throw another log on the “Obama can’t win white, working class voters” fire. But, no, it won’t have much impact on the outcome.

The chattering about this race will stop after two or three days and turn to speculation about Kentucky and Oregon, the next stops on the circuit, which come next Tuesday. Kentucky, with 51/60 delegates, is likely to be another Clinton runaway whereas Oregon, with 52/65 delegates at stake, should be a comfortable win for Obama.

A week from now, then, Clinton will have two blowouts in states very favorable to her and Obama will have one tidy win in a very, very white state. But Clinton won’t have made up much ground in the delegate count and we’ll be two weeks from the end of the line, with Puerto Rico, Montana, and South Dakota the only remaining stops.

*Delegate counts are all expressed as those pledged delegates available through the primary, a slash, and total delegates with the inclusion of unpledged (“super”) delegates.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 2008 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. davod says:

    Oregon – A very white liberal state.

  2. Michael says:

    The only real question is how much the media’s pounding on the inevitability of Obama’s nomination will depress Clinton turnout and motivate “I’ll show them” turnout on the part of Obama supporters.

    How much of the opposite? With the inevitability of Obama’s nomination, I would think that more of his supporters would stay home thinking their mission accomplished, while Clinton’s supporters will hope that a sufficiently large blowout will keep their candidate in the race. Certainly Clinton’s supporters have more motive to show up at the polls today than Obama’s do.

  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    As you watch the returns from West Virginia, remember this. No democrat has won the White House without also winning West Virginia since Woodrow Wilson (who only lost WV by 0.94%).

    And if Obama loses by 30+ points in the primary, what dies that say about his winning WV in November.

  4. Rando says:

    The notion that Obama has a problem with a certain segment of democratic voters is one of the great logical fallacies perpetrated and perpetuated by the media. The voters by and large who are voting in the democratic primaries are democrats or independents or disenchanted republicans who will support the Democratic nominee – whoever he or she may be. The media is taking this subset of voters and extrapolating their voting patterns to the general election which does not make any sense. These are democratic voters (for the most part). While a certain segment of this electorate may prefer Clinton over Obama or vice-versa, to make an broad, unsupported assumption that a certain group or demographic of voters does not support Obama because they have a preference for Clinton is erroneous. Certainly there are some Clinton voters who will vote for McCain in the general (and Obama voters who would vote for McCain over Clinton if she were to the be nominee). But to conclude that the white, blue collar voters who support Clinton do not also, and will not also, support Obama come the general is to make a leap of logic that is unsupportable. Its about degrees of preference.

  5. yetanotherjohn says:


    The problem with your view is that these are the same class of voters that led to Reagan’s landslides. If these voters could really be happy with either candidate, you would expect less lopsided totals.

    John McCain can reach these voters because they share a common set of values. Instead of whining about how hard it is to make ends meet on several hundred thousand a year, Obama and his supporters would do well to ask why this group is not being persuaded by Obama.
    Of course from the GOP standpoint, its great that Obama has put together a coalition of effete elites and blacks to win the nomination. Thats a base you can sink a presidential campaign on.