May 13th, 2008
10:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Why West Virginians turned out for Clinton

Clinton’s West Virginia supporters say they weren't swayed by grim pundit assessments.

Clinton’s West Virginia supporters say they weren't swayed by grim pundit assessments.

CHARLESTON, West Virginia (CNN) -There was never much of a question about who would win the West Virginia primary. The electorate is made up of older, white, blue-collar voters that have become Hillary Clinton's base.

But they've also been hearing a week of speculation that Obama's path to the nomination is inevitable. So why turn out?

"I think she's got the experience to get us out of a deep hole," said Johnny Nance, a preservation contractor who owns the building in Huntington where Clinton has a campaign office. "You can't win this country's [presidency] without winning West Virginia. We've picked them the whole 20th century," added Nance before saying he'd support whomever the Democratic nominee is.

"She's brilliant," said Veda Hughes, 58, joined by three friends at Clinton's victory party Tuesday night.

Does the impression the New York senator can't win bother her? "Heck no! No! We're in this 'til the end, it doesn't bother us at all!"

"I think Obama is a wonderful speaker and I love what he says but I think Hillary has the experience, she knows what's going on. She tells what she's going to do," added companion Amy Wade, 35.

Several people pointed to potential baggage Obama could carry into the general election.

"I don't think his wife has been a credit to him, I don't think his minister has been a credit to him," said Diane Givens.

Surgical technician Jeremy Elswick, 30, agreed that Wright was a negative and said Obama didn't do enough to woo the voters of West Virginia. "He just seemed like he had his nose up in the air. She seems like she's for the blue-collar people of West Virginia."

Clinton heads to Oregon - considered Obama-friendly territory - on Friday before campaigning in Kentucky, a state whose demographics are very similar to West Virginia's.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • West Virginia
soundoff (270 Responses)
  1. Mike P. In GA

    First off, I am a HUGE Obama supporter and a firm supporter of the Democratic Party in general. What gets me are those Hillary supporters say that if he (and he will) get the nomination they would stay home or vote for McCain. This tells me that they are willing endure 4 more years of George Bush policies just because their candidate did not win? What since does that make? If the tables were turned my allegiance is with the Democratic Party and I would support her. Just like Obama said last week in his trouncing of Hillary in NC, this election is not about him, Hillary, or McCain it is about us (voters).

    Quick Tip:

    Ever notice that when they poll the supporters of each campaign (Hillary and Obama’s), Hillary’s supporters are more willing to not support Obama’s nomination than his supporters. Why is that? They are both talking about the domestic issues, global warming, Iraq, and beating McCain in November. There policies are basically the same. Would the TRUE Democrats please stand up?????

    May 13, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  2. Bill Clinton

    She's 'pushing on' because she's a 'fighter' because she needs to write down debt. 'Winning' Kentucky next week will give her another cash boost and she'll have to coast on fumes to when the DNC give her a 55- 45 split on MI delegates and a 50-50 split in FL (the only ethical thing to do). Obama will be over in delegates with supers at that point who know their destiny is tied to him. Hillary will talk long and hard about her historic run and love of party and country, taking Bill's and Congress's healthcare, pension and secret service protection, and get her signing bonus for her book deal and speaking tour, making 10 times what these poor suckers will donate now to get her out of hock. She'll soon be a millionaire again.

    May 13, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  3. thinktank

    Congratulations Hillary!

    May 13, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  4. David, Santa Rosa, CA

    Why? Because Sen. Clinton supporters are hanging on to a fantasy at this point. Second, Sen. Clinton is encouraging this and of course, as we saw this evening, she made a pitch for more donations. Hillary believes that her supporters don't know enough to figure out that if they donate, it's just going to go to that $20m debt she has accrued. Now, if they know that, and they still donate, I very much admire them, for those are the ones who are standing by thier candidate. If they don't donate or campaign, then... shut up people.

    May 13, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  5. Helena

    It does not matter that Hillary won West Virginia. She will not be the nominee she cannot possibly overtake him at this point in the campaign. Senator Obama will win Oregon, Montana & South Dakota and more superdelegates will endorse him beginning tomorrow.

    May 13, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  6. Mandy, California

    What is amazing to me is that Clinton who is worth $100 million took money from a child who sold his bike and viedo games to donate to her campaign!

    What is that about?

    May 13, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  7. Monroe

    Hillary's "swing voter" argument is flawed. If you look at the county breakdown of her wins, she is winning the Republican areas, not "the places Democrats need to win." Let's turn the argument around– She's done terribly in major cities, and no Democrat in recent history has ever won or even come close without racking up votes in big cities. If her logic is sound, then it proves Obama is the only one with a chance to win.

    May 13, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  8. karen orange

    Personally I think West Virginia wanted to make history and prolong the race. It puts their state in the news and certainly the state of their state is nothing to brag about. They are floundering in West Virginia and the fact that they think Hillary offers them anything that Obama doesn't just proves that they are less in tune with the times. That is a state that lives in the past. Older blue collar workers who just haven't moved on. If they really think that Hillary or anyone can bring back their blue collar jobs they have a big wake up call. Learning a new trade is their only answer and that's moving towards the 21st century. They seem to be stuck in the past.

    May 13, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  9. CA for Obama

    Well, first of all let me say thank you to the voters in WVA who DID open up their minds and their hearts and vote for Obama. Having said that-Hili-idiots I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR A CLINTON. You keep threatning a HRC run in '2012. Go right ahead and keep that thought in your small minds. I promise you she won't get as far as she did this time. She won't even make it to the GE. Those who know the Bible know the quote "an eye for an eye." Be careful what you ask for. Obama supporters can do her far more harm than you can to him. He's a likeable person. I for one am NOT going to ask you to vote for him if you don't want to. Most of you (certainly not all) are racists anyway. That is why you mention in your blogs "race doesn't have anything to do with it" oh no-then why do you mention it? I know ignorant.

    May 13, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  10. mitchell from arkansaw

    there's not very many people in west virginia,and there was not 'record 'turnout there either.i think the obama supporters know he's got it in the bag ,so,not all of them voted,otherwise,he would've won handily.i think the lower voter turnout there,is due to hillary's not giving up.only her hardcore supporters voted,today,obviously.all democrats know she's not electable ,because,well,she is a's true.older,white,blue collar voters will never vote for girls in general elections,because they know republicans will make fun of girl candidates.white people like black people better than they like's true.i'm sorry,does this sound like spin?i learned it from hillary.

    May 13, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  11. David, Santa Rosa, CA

    Oh... and we need to unite the party. I'm sure my rhetoric is helping that happen. My bad. Sorry folks, I'm tired and grumpy.

    May 14, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  12. Heidi in Houston

    Why do voters think:
    1) She has all this experience? She was the first lady so she can find all the White House bathrooms more quickly. Other than that, what has she done? Legislatively, she's named some post offices and libraries in Manhattan, ignored upstate NY when it came to the jobs she'd promised them and voted for a war we should have never waged.
    2) Her Universal Healthcare is such a great thing? Many MANY Hillary voters I've spoken with were under the misconception that because it's called "Universal Healthcare" it's free. It's NOT free. It will be more affordable, just like Obama's plan will be more affordable than current insurance plans. However, Hillary will mandate the coverage, meaning, if you don't have healthcare, you will be FORCED to buy her plan – even if it's complete CRAP! The reason Hillary says Obama's plan with leave 15 million people out is because his plan isn't mandated and according the Clinton estimates, 15 million people may not choose to buy the government's plan. Notice that she says it will leave 15 million people out, rather than state honestly, that it will give 15 million people the choice whether or not to buy it. If she stated it honestly, she would be admitting that 15 million people's personal choice is not in her interests nor in the interest of her administration. If you don't willingly buy Hillary's plan or private insurance, your paycheck will be garnished by the government against your will. Just what we need – another government agency garnishing our wages. Go Hillary! I think not.

    May 14, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  13. Independant Voter

    I just want to say I'm sick of people whining about a double standard when people vote based on race. There is a huge difference in voting with the excitement that we may see the first black president in our history as Americans and people who refuse to vote for somebody because he's not white. On top of that, if he was only winning votes from the black community, he would not have the lead in the popular vote, pledged delegates and superdelegates.

    May 14, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  14. Independent-woman-voter-for-Obama

    BECAUSE PEOPLE DON"T THINK. They know Clinton, and so they voted for her.

    With ALL of her experience, she VOTED FOR THE WAR! Now our nation is in debt $10 TRILLION and counting.

    She's SO brilliant she could not tell that Bush was lying.

    May 14, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  15. Gene

    It's time for the superdelegates to get serious and give their vote to someone who can do the job, and that isn't Obama. Obama has been given a huge benefit of the doubt by commentators. Clinton has good, solid policies, especially on health care, where Obama is far too weak. Clinton also has spine, and Obama has repeatedly shown he has no spine. He doesn't understand the issues very well, and doesn't have well-formed policies to propose.
    Clinton has done the Democaratixc Party a favor by stretching out the process, and energizing people in so many States to participate, and they will also participate in the general election. Don't give up on Clinton yet. AND COUNT MICHIGAN AND FLORIDA; THEY DESERVE TO BE COUNTED.

    May 14, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  16. Michigan Voter !!!

    Hillary I'm Not Surprised !!! . You Are A True American Fighter!!!
    That's Why We Love Ya !!! I Believe You Are Going To WIN !!! God Bless You , "THANK YOU" To West Virginia !!!!!!!

    HILLARY 2008

    May 14, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  17. Sean

    Someone may want to remind Johnny Nance that the rest of the world is in the 21st century now. They are free to stay in the old world, but it's really time that we move forward.

    May 14, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  18. Retire Clintons!!

    CNN please post this!

    It is damened good news that 36% of Clintons WV supporters will vote for Obama and 35% for McCain. Since Obama and Clinton each has got more votes than McCain in this primary across states, a split of Clnton supporters means that Obama will outperform McCain, not to mention this is a conservative estimate from a rural state WV, and not to mention more Clinton supporters may be grabed as race goes.

    What happened in Missippi tonight is a sign of confirmation. Clinton voters, do not be a two-time loser. Vote for Obama the next president!

    May 14, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  19. Chy

    People keep analyzing this race by saying, "in the past," this has happened or that has happened. In the past, WV has picked all the presidents. In the past, this, in the past, that. The truth of the matter is that this race is unprecendented, and whatever "rules from the past" you want to apply to it, need to be applied with great caution.

    May 14, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  20. Peter, DC transplant

    This is West Virginia, people, not the US. Just as Clinton is claiming a big win in the nations newest swing-state, the rest of the nation is declaring that the majority see Clinton as a weaker candidate, less likely to win, dishonest, and most negative. Clinton can push forward all she wants, but she's go no right to push the WV results any more than Obama can push MD, ID, or AK. Oh wait, caucuses aren't democratic. Basically, Clinton is using decade-old spin techniques to say she's the candidate best able to bring change. Doesn't make sense to me, but hey... WV says so, so all us edukated folk better fall in line.

    May 14, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  21. patrick

    Im not sure i beleive some of the W Virginias voters reasons for voting for HIlary. One voters says she has been specific about what she plans to do...Well what do Hilary supporters think Obama has been stating all this time??

    May 14, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  22. Fred

    The lowest wage earners in the country. Not very bright people. You would think that they would want to do somthing differnt. I guess you always get what you always got. If you dont change. Good Luck W. Virginia. Hillary just wants her money back and then will drop you like a bad apple. Most of the country sees the writting on the wall.

    May 14, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  23. Gabriel

    People keep asking "what's the difference between Obama winning 90% of the black vote and Hillary winning 75% of the white vote?"

    The difference is that Obama is not campainging as the "black candidate" and never says thngs like "Americans, hard working, black Americans support me and that's why I'm the best candidate against John McCain." Hillary has now cast herself as the "white candidate" and implies that her supporters won't support Obama.

    The implication is that other voters are not as important as the ones she can bring or worse, they aren't needed. That is what Senator Clinton said and implied. And it wasn't a slip of the tongue because her campaign spokespeople said the same things to the press.

    May 14, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  24. mitchell from arkansaw

    i thought west virginia was just the left side of virginia.u mean its a state?

    May 14, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  25. carl

    however it turns out. if hillary is not on the ticket i will not vote this fall. if she is i will vote. i think she has earned it.

    obama needs to think hard about putting hillary on the ticket.

    alot of people have said here if hillary is not on the ticket they
    won't vote this fall.

    i think if he want's to win he will put hillary on with him.

    otherwise it will be alot harder for him to win.

    May 14, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
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