When I was growing up, West Virginia was the most reliably Democratic state in the country. Last year, it was the second most Republican in the presidential election (after Wyoming). Trump beat Biden in every single county and beat him statewide 545,382 (68.62%) to 235,984 (29.69%). That's some change from when I was a kid! The year I was born, Truman scraped by, beating Thomas Dewey 49.6% to 45.1% nationwide. It wasn't anything like that in West Virginia, which gave Truman a 57.3% to 42.2% landslide, and victories in all but 14 of West Virginia's 55 counties. Four years later Eisenhower crushed Democrat Adlai Stevenson nationally-- 55.2% to 44.3%, Stevenson even losing Illinois, where he had served as governor! Other than the "Solid South," West Virginia was the only state to vote for Stevenson-- and he beat Ike 51.9% to 48.1%. And back in those days, Wet Virginia was way more important electorally than it is now-- 8 electoral votes instead of today's 4.
In 1960, West Virginia went for JFK over Nixon. Four years later the LBJ landslide over Goldwater was so massive that only the 4 reddest counties in the state voted Republican! In 1969 Humphrey beat Nixon by 9 points in West Virginia, while losing nationally. In 1980, Jimmy Carter lost by nearly 10 points to Reagan nationally, but West Virginia gave the win to Carter by over 4 points. Dukakis beat George H.W. Bush in West Virginia and Clinton took the state both times he ran. And that was that. Clinton moved the Democratic Party away from support for the working class and West Virginia immediately flipped to a red state. Bush kicked Gore's and Kerry's asses; McCain slaughtered Obama (only 7 counties voting Democratic) and then Romney wiped Obama out entirely-- every county went red... same in 2016 and 2020 for Trump. West Virginia was not buying corporate Democrats.
Interestingly, though, in the 2016 presidential primaries, Bernie didn't just smash Clinton, in many working class counties he drew more votes than Trump did on the same day! They were wiling to give an FDR Democrat a chance-- but not a corporate shill like Hillary. Every single Bernie county in the primaries went for Trump in the general. These are the counties where Bernie got more votes than Trump in the primaries:
Boone Co.- Bernie 2,410, Trump 1,388
Braxton Co.- Bernie 1,321, Trump 861
Brooke Co.- Bernie 1,966, Trump 1,963
Calhoun Co.- Bernie 803, Trump 480
Clay Co.- Bernie 754, Trump 568
Fayette Co.- Bernie 3,585, Trump 2,683
Gilmer Co.- Bernie 643, Trump 433
Lincoln Co.- Bernie 1,510, Trump 1,193
Logan Co.- Bernie 3,201, Trump 1,665
Marion Co.- Bernie 5,324, Trump 4,035
Mcdowell Co.- Bernie 1,453, Trump 760
Mingo Co.- Bernie 2,425, Trump 1,161
Monongalia Co.- Bernie 8,096, Trump 5,971
Randolph Co.- Bernie 2,492, Trump 2,206
Summers Co.- Bernie 1,060, Trump 942
Wayne Co.- Bernie 2,898, Trump 2,662
Webster Co.- Bernie 837, Trump 423
Wetzel Co.- Bernie 1,744, Trump 1,094
On Tuesday, reporting for The Guardian, Zack Harold wrote about how "immensely popular" Biden's $3.5 billion Build Back Better plan is-- as it is being killed by their own corporate Democratic senator, Joe Manchin. His point was that "working class voters-- even Trump voters-- understand the Build Back Better plan will benefit them." Corporate Democrats don't understand and don't want to understand.
That's why it is so, so crucial for progressives to Hold The Line. Hopefully they're listening to Varshini Prakash, executive director of Sunrise Movement: "The climate crisis is here and demands immediate action from Congress. Building Back Better means that Congress must pass a robust reconciliation package before the bipartisan infrastructure package-- one that boldly invests in our infrastructure, fully funds the Civilian Climate Corps and ensures that a clean energy standard excludes gas so we can finally kick off the Decade of the Green New Deal. No Climate. No Deal." And Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn: "We applaud House Democrats who are boldly holding the line for better care for our families, our planet, and our futures, not the bottom line for big corporations. MoveOn is proud to see these champions taking a stand against corporate lobbyists, corporate Democrats, and insufficient and incremental policies that don’t meet the moment. These leaders haven’t backed away from the mandate from 81 million voters who voted for Biden to build back better. They know that by taxing the ultra wealthy, we can deliver on the people’s agenda to combat climate change, bolster the care economy, and ensure a pathway to citizenship for millions of families." And Mary Small, a director of Indivisible: "Progressives have been good faith negotiators from the start, and in fact the only ones working to deliver on long standing Democratic priorities like expanding health care, addressing the climate crisis, and unrigging our economy. Given the crises of a pandemic, racial injustice, and climate catastrophe, passing the full Build Back Better Act is non-negotiable. We thank progressives for prioritizing the needs of our communities and holding the line in Congress. We will continue to have their backs as they work to create the inclusive recovery that meets this pivotal moment. It’s time to deliver." And Jennifer Epps-Addison, president of Center for Popular Democracy: "It is long past time for Congress to deliver on the mandate for climate solutions, care for those in need, a path to citizenship, and the investments in our future that voters delivered in record numbers last year. This requires passage of the full Build Back Better deal including two bills: the bipartisan roads and bridges bill as well as the broader investments bill moving through the reconciliation process. We support the position of the Congressional Progressive Caucus that the smaller roads and bridges bill must not pass until the full deal has been secured."
Back to West Virginia and the reality Zack Harold was presenting. "Though vehemently opposed by Republicans and West Virginia’s own Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, there is some evidence that the proposals contained in the spending plans-- which some have likened to the 1930s New Deal-- are more popular among grassroots Republicans than their political representatives. That may be especially true in West Virginia, which is a poor, largely white and working class state whose residents would stand to greatly benefit from the Biden effort."
Biden’s budget bill includes his Build Back Better plan, which would cut taxes for most Americans, raise taxes on the rich, train more workers and lower costs for healthcare, childcare, education and housing.
When the nonpartisan nonprofit WorkMoney surveyed more than 50,000 of its 2 million members nationwide, it found 81% of respondents said they supported this plan. That includes 90% of liberals who took the survey, 81% of moderates and 66% of conservatives.
Conservative backing appears even more robust in West Virginia, home of Manchin, a moderate Democrat who is one of the critical holdouts on the budget bill and whose efforts could derail the entire plan-- or see large chunks of it scrapped as he balks at the budget’s price tag.
But according to the survey, 80% of more than 800 people surveyed in his home state believe he should vote to pass the bill. That includes 77% of conservatives who responded to the survey.