Hillbillies For Hillary

West Virginia is definitely Clinton and not Obama country. The Los Angeles Times describes How West Virginia Could Spell Trouble for Obama:

“My worry is there’s just too many people in this country who aren’t ready to elect a black president,” said Charles L. Silliman, a retired Air Force officer who is Hardy County’s Democratic Party co-chairman. “There’s a lot to like about him. But I’m just afraid that too many people will vote against him based on their fears and prejudice.”

Silliman and his wife, Carmen, are Clinton supporters, drawn by her healthcare plan and her endurance on the campaign trail. Still, the couple repeatedly have found themselves defending Obama, correcting acquaintances who relay baseless rumors about his name and religion.

Carmen Silliman has collected a sheaf of poisonous e-mails that have flowed into her in-box. “We do not need a Muslim to lead the good ole USA,” reads one. Obama is, in fact, a Christian.

Neil Gillies, an Obama supporter who runs a local environmental nonprofit group, glumly recounted the gibes that his wife, a schoolteacher, hears regularly from her students. “They’re convinced [Obama] is a Muslim, a terrorist, a guy who’s coming to take away their guns,” Gillies said. “It’s just sad.”

Slung along the bottom of West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, Hardy County was once rock-solid Democratic. Senior citizens fondly recall the day Eleanor Roosevelt arrived to dedicate the opening of Moorefield High School in 1941.

But socially conservative church groups and gun-rights supporters here have helped tilt the vote Republican in recent presidential elections. In 2004, Hardy County lined up for George W. Bush by a 3-1 ratio.

I’m not surprised that socially conservative areas are going to go for the socially conservative Clinton over the socially liberal Obama. Add racism and an area more prone than most to fall for the usual conservative scare tactics and lies and a Clinton landslide is inevitable. After all, it was the voters of West Virginia that the Republican National Committee conned with mailers saying that if he was elected John Kerry would take away their bibles as well as guns.

There’s no doubt that an area like West Virginia would be the last bastion of Clinton conservatism, even at this state in the race. It doesn’t really matter. The Democratic nomination is pretty much settled. West Virginia will go Republican in November regardless of whether Clinton or Obama, now the presumptive nominee, is the candidate. Besides, even if there was any truth to the claims that Clinton could do better in November due to bringing in such conservative voters, this is not how I want to win.

Actually I wouldn’t even see it as a win. I’d go with a liberal such as Obama over a Clinton conservative, regardless of the impact on electability as the election would be lost from the start if our only choices were Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Fortunately we do not have to face such a dilemma as Obama is likely to bring in far more educated, affluent voters than Clinton is likely to bring in socially conservative, uneducated, and working class voters.


Campaigning Against John McCain, Not George Bush

Republican on line political strategist Patrick Ruffini is offering some advice that Democrats should listen to. I’ve been shuddering for a while over the strategy of trying to campaign against John McCain by claiming that he is identical to George Bush. Whether by good sense or possibly due to old fashioned dumb luck, the Republicans have wound up with the candidate who has the best shot of winning due to not being linked to Bush’s legacy.

Ruffini is not disputing McCain’s electoral weakness on the war. He does advise:

Limit Bush=McCain criticisms to Iraq only, where there is already an established public narrative of McCain being very hawkish, and in fact, leading Bush into the surge. And isn’t Iraq the core of their indictment? Why muddy it up with domestic stuff where Bush and McCain are often night and day?

Supporting the Iraq war was one of the biggest mistakes of modern times and Democrats can capitalize on this thanks to being on path to nominating Barack Obama and repudiating Hillary Clinton. Beyond Iraq there are obviously other similarities between Bush and McCain as there are some common beliefs of all Republicans. The difference is often one of degree, with McCain not being the far right extremist that Bush is. Democrats must keep in mind that before going to war in Iraq and before moving to the extreme right, the views commonly held by Republicans, right or wrong, were the views which got far more Republicans than Democrats elected.

McCain is not the independent moderate sometimes portrayed by the media, but he is also not the far right extremist that currently dominates the Republican Party. McCain breaks from the far right on torture, although he has certainly not been consistent in his voting. McCain at least does not deny that climate change is a problem and is preferable over the far right on environmental issues, but he is not the environmental champion sometimes described by the media. He panders far too much to the religious right, especially on abortion, but has far weaker ties to the religious right than George Bush (or Hillary Clinton).

Democrats need to go after McCain from both directions. Describing him as McSame is not enough. They need to hammer at the specific problems with his own views. Acknowledging that his views are not as extreme as Bush’s could also be of some benefit beyond being what we should expect from the “reality based” community. This this could help depress turnout by those on the far right who already have qualms about him. Ruffini recommends:

Drive wedges between McCain and his base by playing up McCain’s ongoing feuds with Bush and the conservative movement, demoralizing conservatives and keeping base turnout closer to 1996-2000 levels as opposed to red-hot 2004 levels. Focus on insider issues like the 2000 vote that won’t get much play outside the respective party echo chambers, limiting any fallout among true independents, who are a dwindling percentage of the electorate anyway. Remember that it’s easier to get 4 million conservatives not to show up than it is to get 2 million independents to switch.

John McCain is certain to play up his differences from Bush in a positive light to attract moderates and independents, who I believe are more significant than Ruffini states. I’m not so sure that he is really upset over the stories that he did not vote for Bush in 2000 or that in 1999 he said that Bush is “as dumb as a stump.”