This is my response:
West Virginia has a long history of supporting Democrats, yet the Gazette editorial in the March 26th edition ponders why citizens vote Republican in presidential elections.
The issue of West Virginians voting Republican is difficult to understand from the mindset of liberals because they fail to see that people in this state may identify themselves as Democrats, but it would be more accurate to say their ideology is populist in nature.
The people here are strongly pro-labor and pro-union. They support government programs to help those in need. In fact, West Virginia Democrats probably support most economic policies of liberal Democrats. However, the great determinant for the people in West Virginia lies not in economic policies, but in their social views.
The citizens here do not support the modern liberal position on crucial issues such as abortion and gay rights. Liberals question how West Virginians can put social views ahead of economic interests in such difficult financial times. I would strongly contend that such a belief stems from the deep religious values many people hold, which leads them to believe there are simply more important issues than money.
In examining the last three presidential elections, is there really any wonder why West Virginia voted for the Republican candidate each time? George Bush (twice) and John McCain held social values similar to the majority of the people in this state. Republicans didn't have to reach out to West Virginians -- they already had them.
Republican candidates also fostered an image that more strongly appeals to West Virginians. Bush and McCain were men with whom the people could draw comparisons to themselves. Opposing them was an environmentalist who couldn't win his home state (Al Gore), an elitist north-easterner (John Kerry) and a minority candidate who spoke about 'change' (Barack Obama). The people here could not connect with these men because they were different -- and what voter doesn't like to envision someone like themselves in the White House?
Also, have Republicans made any real gains in the state? Democrats have a 65-35 advantage in the House of Delegates and a 28-6 stranglehold in the State Senate. Perhaps I'm wrong on this one, but my calculations suggest the Republicans will gain control of the state legislature when hell freezes over.
Moreover, the belief by the unnamed blogger (and presumably the Gazette) that conservatives control the media is absurd. The Charleston Gazette is a newspaper with a markedly liberal slant -- with the largest distribution in the state. On a national level, citizens have the ability to view all forms of media via the Internet and through television. No group has cornered the market on access to information.
If Democrats wish to see this state move into their corner in 2012, they must realize that when West Virginians can't have a candidate that supports both their social and economic views, they will choose social views almost every time.
Location:Pryor Ln,East Bank,United States