- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Even before Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee this week, West Virginia looked like awfully favorable turf for the billionaire real estate mogul.

He’s among the three remaining presidential candidates who are visiting the state ahead of West Virginia’s May 10 election. Trump is in Charleston for a rally Thursday evening.

Nebraska also votes in its GOP presidential primary on May 10.

For West Virginia Democrats, Bernie Sanders is favored in many primary polls. However, Hillary Clinton holds a nearly insurmountable delegate lead.

Trump is the last Republican standing after his landslide victory in Indiana on Tuesday. Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich quit their campaigns afterward.

Still, West Virginia’s process of electing convention delegates may not end up reflecting Trump’s anticipated wide support in the popular vote.

The state also lets independent voters cast either a Republican or Democratic primary ballot.

Here are some key factors in the primary:


Trump performs well with white voters, older voters and voters with relatively low levels of education - all top-five categories for West Virginia, said Scott Crichlow, head of West Virginia University’s political science department.

On the ballot, though, it’ll take some forethought to make Trump’s support reflected at the Republican National Convention.

The state GOP leaves it up to voters elect convention delegates, who select the Republican nominee for president. West Virginia’s popular vote largely doesn’t matter for the convention’s nominating process. The state gets 34 GOP delegates.

Voters can pick up to 22 names from 220 Republicans running for statewide delegate slots. Delegates list which candidates they support and where they are from. Delegates who are uncommitted or committed to a now-defunct candidate can have their pick at the convention.

The top statewide vote-getter will automatically become a delegate. The other 21 will be divided into the top seven from each of three congressional districts. Within those congressional districts, only up to two can be from the same county.

Down the ballot, voters will select three more delegates who run specifically within one of the congressional districts, for a total of nine.

The final three delegate spots will be filled by Republican National Committee members, who historically reflect the popular vote with their convention picks.


In a stop in Williamson on Monday, Clinton acknowledged her chances there “are pretty difficult to be honest.” Polls favoring Sanders in West Virginia have backed that up.

Unlike Republicans, Democrats don’t put national convention delegates on the ballot. Most of West Virginia’s 37 Democratic delegates are chosen by a state party convention or committee.

Eight superdelegates, comprised of party leaders and elected officials, aren’t bound to the popular vote when voting at the convention. Six are Clinton-committed, one is pro-Sanders and another is uncommitted.

Clinton has faced backlash for saying on television in March that she would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” She was responding to a question about how her policies would benefit poor white people in southern states.

While trying to make peace with the coal community in Williamson, she was met with protests. Responding to an unemployed coal worker, she said she made a “misstatement.” Clinton released a $30 billion plan last fall aimed at aiding communities dependent on coal production.

She stopped in Charleston on Tuesday. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, went to Logan and Charleston on Sunday.

Sanders riled up thousands of supporters at a Huntington rally last week. He’s stopping Thursday in South Charleston, Morgantown and McDowell County.

Sanders, a progressive candidate running to Clinton’s left, may appear an unlikely a fit for the historically conservative Democratic state.

But within the contingency of Democrats that don’t identify with the national party, some of them may not vote for either candidate, according to Public Policy Polling’s analysis.

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