West Virginia Republicans have taken over a piece of election high ground that has been dominated historically by the Democrats:  straight ticket voting.

A Republican strategist working on the 2014 election, who asked that his name not be used, has forwarded me a county-by-county list of straight ticket voting by party from the 2012 General Election.

The list includes 52 of the 55 counties. Summers County is still out, as are Braxton and Wyoming, which use paper ballots and do not count straight ticket ballots.

Still for the 52 that have checked in, the numbers show 87,323 Republican straight ticket ballots compared with 82,539 Democrat.  3,765 voted straight ticket either Mountain Party or Libertarian.  So Republicans held a 50.3 percent to 47.5 percent advantage in straight ticket voting in 2012 in those counties.

What’s perhaps more interesting is the number of counties that switched from having a majority of Democratic straight ticket voters to Republican.

According to the figures I’ve seen, 26 of the 53 reporting counties had a higher percentage of straight ticket Republican voters.  In 2010, only 16 of those 53 counties had more Republican straight ticket ballots.

Twelve counties (Barbour, Greenbrier, Marshall, Mercer, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pleasants, Raleigh, Roane, Taylor, Tucker and Wirt) flipped from D to R on straight ticket ballots.  One county, Jefferson, went the other way.

One of the most notable switches was Raleigh County.  In 2010, 53 percent of the straight ticket ballots were Democrat and 46 percent Republican, but in the last election 57 percent were Republican and 42 percent we Democrat.

Republicans are also buoyed by some of the other figures.

For example, Harrison County, a traditional Democratic stronghold, still held an advantage in straight ticket voting in 2012 (50.7 percent to 46.8 percent), but the gap was significantly narrower than just two years before (58.5 percent to 40.2 percent).

In Mercer County, there appears to have been a stunning shift.  In 2010, straight ticket votes were evenly split with a slight advantage going to the Democrats (49.8 percent to 48.3 percent).  But in 2012, the Republican Party received 60 percent of the straight ticket votes.

These numbers should worry down ballot Democratic candidates, who have benefited substantially over the years from a significant registration advantage and a strong vote getter at the top of the ticket.

Consider for example, that in the 2006 General Election, with Senator Robert Byrd on the ballot, Democrats collected 105,000 straight ticket votes, compared with just 50,000 for the Republicans.

Now, the number of straight ticket votes is essentially a split between the two parties with a slight edge going to the Republicans, even though Democrats continue to hold a 52 percent to 29 percent advantage in registration.

As a general rule, Democratic candidates in West Virginia still begin with a distinct advantage.  However, Republicans, who historically have faced mountainous obstacles, are now finding the challenge is more of a manageable hill.

 

 

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Comments

  • Vincent Vega

    ANOMALY
    There's no mystery to the recent change in straight ticket voting. It has little to do with a surge in popularity of the Republican party in West Virginia. It has much to do with the inferior State Democratic Leadership of Larry "Bag of Donuts" Puccio. Of course, having President Obama on top of the ticket just may have made a some difference.

  • REALISTICALLY

    America is divided as much between rural and urban voters as Democrat and GOP. WV reflects voting trends in Virginia. The big difference is that we have less urban voters. My question after reading this article is: what % of voters use the straight ticket option and how does that compare historically to previous elections? Nationally, the real trend is toward Independent registration and a significant decrease in straight ticket voting would indicate that trend is also at work here.

  • JT

    As someone who has worked on elections as a ballot counter etc,. Straight party voting is complicated for some people, they mark either D or R thinking that they should mark how they are registered , then proceed to split the vote by marking ballots for Ds and Rs. This causes major headaches for the canvassing boards, do away with straight party voting.

  • Woodchuck

    Graveyard votes are only possible with straight party voting. It will stay.

    The democrat districts are a big issue. They run along many cemetery boundaries. Check your maps if you think I'm kidding.

  • Jacob

    Does this mean that the republicans will now change their position on straight ticket voting? I'm sure they will.

  • Barney

    There is one reason and one reason only that there were more republican straigt ticket voters this past election. Let's see what happens in the next off-year election.

  • Hop'sHip

    Oh, please Uncle Fungo.. err..Fester! Tell us the REAL story now. Don't make us wait. Some of us don't follow Glenn.

    • Uncle Fester

      Little by little it is coming out. Looks like Comrade Obama and Hillary Clinton were fighting a secret war against militias in Libya and then selling captured arms to the Syrian rebels. They left the CIA out of the loop. Incidently, it was the CIA outpost that was attacked also in Benghazi. Obama and Clinton hung those 4 poor souls out to dry, and DIE. Anyone who is a supporter of Obama or Clinton should be ashamed of themselves.

  • wirerowe

    I believe you are right mntnman. Though if you put Hillary Rodham on the ballot nothing would change. Proof positive that name recognition always trumps merit.

  • mntnman

    AAO -- All about Obama. Lets see if its a forward moving trend, or simply a anti-Obama vote. Methinks it is AAO. Put Hillary Clinton on the ballot and see what happens.

    • Uncle Fester

      Hillary on the ballot?? Wait, she cannot wash the blood of 4 Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya off of her hands. When the real story comes out, it will ruin anything Hillary has planned for 2016.

      • wirerowe

        Fester how can you criticize a secretary of state whose sole accomplishment after four years is" I flew almost a million miles" You could have stayed home and saved us money.

      • Hop'sHip

        Don't make us wait, Uncle Fungo. Please tell us the REAL story now! Some of us don't follow Glenn.

        • Uncle Fester

          I am not surprised you do not know the real story. Too bad your news station, PMSNBC, doesn't show real news on it. I guess PMSNBC, Andrea Mitchell and Ed Shultz are too busy "doctoring" video and audio to put out the real Benghazi story to their stooges.

    • hillboy

      I suspect it is an on-going trend that will eventually make WV more red than blue. The anti-Obama sentiment is just one factor, though maybe the biggest. Others are the demise of the unions, the passing of Byrd, and the long-term effect of broadcasting by Fox TV and WV Radio Corp. to a generally receptive demographic.

      • Uncle Fester

        West Virginians yearn for the truth. Fair and balanced. That is why WV Radio Corp. and Fox News are popular in WV. We don't buy into the garbage, liberal propoganda, and assininity that NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and PMSNBC try to pass off as journalism.

        • hillboy

          Fester,

          OK, I actually wasn't trying to be judgmental about the content of Fox or WV Radio---it's just a fact that they have had an effect on party loyalty in WV. It was just an observation, not a judgment.

          From this and past comments though I would have to say that you exemplify their receptive demographic. Now, don't go and take offense at that too---it was meant as a compliment.

          • Uncle Fester

            Thank you for the compliment. Wasn't being criticle of you. Just expanding on your thought. I totally agree with your comment.

        • GregG

          "West Virginians yearn for the truth." Now that is the best one I have read for awhile Fungo. Even many of those on my "side of the fence" wouldn't know the "truth" if it smacked them in the face. While everyone is preoccupied with the endless chatter of guns, God, gays and abortion, corporate greed continues to reign over this country.

          • NorthernWVman

            Don't forget personal greed.

  • kensgirl

    I agree that the straight ticket option should be done away with. It's laziness, pure and simple.

    As far as Jefferson Co., their recently-discovered "blueness" is a function of loads of WDC-area workers (a lot of them gub'mint employees) who have moved into the area over the past decade or two for the cheaper cost-of-living (at least as compared to the DC/NVA suburbs.) It has made it one of the wealthiest counties, per capita, in the state, but it's also trending Leftward. If we're lucky, one of the potential positives of the prohibitively high gas prices is that it will make the cost of commuting too high to draw more outsiders to the Eastern Panhandle.

    • Dave

      Thats right, lets hope that anybody moving into West Virginia changes their ind, afterall, we don't need the tax base increase or the census benefits or whatever, we all have wonderful jobs.

  • Jesse's girl

    I also would like to do away w/ straight ticket voting as an option. I usually DO vote a straight ticket--by marking each candidate of my choice. If you do not know the candidates and their positions--stay home!!

  • wirerowe

    Straight ticket voting should not be an option on any ballot.

    • Hop'sHip

      What do you think of gay ticket voting, wireone?

      • wirerowe

        Hops LOL.Depends on if they are liberal or conservative.

  • NorthernWVman

    I hate straight ticket voting. To me it shows lack of research of the candidates. I may vote heavily toward one party over the other but I cannot think of one time I have ever voted and it all came out for an R or a D.

  • CaptainQ

    Well Hoppy, now that this 'secret' is out, I wonder how long it'll take for the Democratic Party 'machine' in WV to finally get behind a movement to do away with straight party balloting? After all, THE ONLY REASON we are one of few states in the union that still have this 'ancient' voting option is because it would (in the past) ALWAYS favor the ruling Democratic Party regime. Now that it no longer does, gotta believe they'll push to, as the young people say, 'bail' on it.

    One statistic you forgot to check on this, Hoppy, how many of the GOP straight party ballots came from 'graveyard' voters? Now if all of THEM decided to switch their voting alliances to the GOP, THEN the Democratic Party in WV would really take notice!