West Virginia politics have been dominated by the Democratic Party for as long as anyone can remember.

Democrats have controlled both chambers of the Legislature since 1930. In the 1932 election, West Virginia was one of 42 states that propelled Democrat Franklin Roosevelt to a landslide victory over Republican Herbert Hoover.

What followed were decades of one-party supremacy in the Mountain State. Richard Brisbin writes in his book “West Virginia Politics and Government,” that between 1932 and 2004, of the 139 terms for statewide office up for election, all but ten were filled by Democrats. (Three of the ten Republican terms were filled by Arch Moore.)

The political hegemony was perpetuated through a significant advantage in voter registration. With twice as many Democrats as Republicans, many elections were decided in the Democratic Primary. Fight through the Primary, then just show up in November.

However, the majority party is steadily losing its numbers advantage.

In 1994, 65 percent of all West Virginia voters were registered Democrats. Ten years later, that had slipped to 58 percent, then 52 percent in 2012. And now, the West Virginia Republican Party, using figures from the Secretary of State’s Office, says Democratic Party registration has fallen below 50 percent (albeit only by a fraction) to 49.9 percent.

That’s tantamount to a rounding error but it’s symbolic, especially for a feisty Republican Party. “This is a really historic day for our state and our party,” said GOP chair Conrad Lucas on Talkline Tuesday.

The Democratic Party quickly pointed out that it still has a significant numeric advantage: 612,288 registered Democrats compared with 353,106 Republicans. Additionally, Democrats have the registration advantage in 43 of the state’s 55 counties, including Kanawha, the state’s largest.  Also, Republican Party registration has held steady for the last 20 years at about 30 percent.

The real growth has been in independent voters. In 1994, just 38,650 registered voters, or four percent, had no party affiliation. Today 233,075 state voters, or 19 percent, are independent.

The increase in independent voters can be attributed to the two major parties opening their primaries to non-party voters, as well as the decline of the influence of the party system. Today politicians are far more likely to stress their personal qualifications rather than espouse party platform positions.

Also, nationally the Democratic Party has shifted farther to the left under Barack Obama, making it less suitable for conservative Democrats in the Mountain State.

Still, party registration matters. While Democratic Party leaders are down-playing the impact of the new numbers, countering that independents will one day overtake Republicans in voter registration, there is reason for concern among the ranks. Dropping from 65 percent to 50 percent in twenty years is not a blip, it’s a trend.

This isn’t your grandfather’s Democratic Party anymore.

 

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Comments

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  • winston

    who can change the declining path we are on. the democrats have had control for ever time to try something different.

  • Levelheaded

    After 80 years of Democrats I'm ready for a change.

  • Chuck Anziulewicz

    DEAR HOPPY:

    For about as long as I can remember, you have lamented West Virginia being a "one-party state" or a "one-party system" merely by virtue of the fact that there are more Democrats than Republicans in both the Senate and the House of Delegates ... by whatever margin.

    If and when the GOP takes control of both chambers, will you still be referring to West Virginia as a "one-party state"? I suppose not.

  • DB

    JMR-It's very apparent that you HAVE NOT been taking your meds! It's obvious your blind allegiance to the MOST INCOMPETENT/DECEITFUL POTUS EVER (and his Far Left Wackjob Lemmings) is causing you serious problems! I implore you to seek professional help ASAP!!!!!

  • David Kennedy

    Very proud Tea Party Democrat here....
    Can't wait to vote a Straight Republican Ballot in the next election...
    If we let the corruption continue, then we are also guilty by complicity...

    • Old Vet

      Here, here! Rome burned and everyone thought is was simply garbage day.

  • FungoJoe

    Hoppy,
    As long as we do not have Voter ID laws, the demoncrats will always hold an edge.
    Remember just recently, the racist and hate mongering Al Sharpton held welcome home party for a "black" demoncratic activist released from federal prison for several counts of voter fraud.
    The hate rhetoric that oozes from radical left is why I left the Democrat Party for Independence. The radical left has become the American Taliban.

  • Mike of Mingo

    West Virginians have long been taught that the Kenesyian (SP?) model of economics works well. That theory (they think) was proved by their God, Mr. FDR. Fact of the matter Roosevelt's policies were failing, just like Obama's until the Japanese (Biden just said that the Germans) attacked us at Pearl Harbor.

    Maybe they should look at the idea that Government is not the end all cure all for economic woes. Adam Smith had it mostly right. Hands off business let a free economy cure itself.

    West Virginia should shift to Republican, then maybe the Democrats would pay more attention to the needs of West Virginians to "buy them" back into the fold. Instead of ignoring the State like they have since Byrd left this world.

    • JMR

      The idiocy of posting Reagan quotes and foolishly worshipping the man cannot be understated. West Virginia did not do well under Saint Ronnie.

      • pc

        And WV has done so well under your hero, Kenya/Philippines/Hawaii community organizer (whatever in hell that means) Barry/Barack/Hussein/or what he calls himself this month????

      • The bookman

        Because WV was doing just fine until Reagan came along and derailed our economic engine, right? Reagan was a great President because he inherited a national economy on life support, took very difficult and painful steps to right the ship, and marshaled the greatest peacetime economic recovery in our history. He achieved this in a divided government situation much like we see today, only as the Executive in Chief, he demonstrated leadership skills that rose above the partisanship to achieve his agenda. Not by executive order and unconstitutional action, but by legislative action signed into law.

        There is no revision of history necessary to make Reagan look good. His numbers speak for themselves, as well as the template for initiating a robust recovery on the heels of a deep recession. States that demonstrated a willingness to participate in the recovery did well in the 80's. States like WV, with our antiquated leadership, were left behind to receive what RCB could squirrel out of the Senate and direct to us. WV needs to understand that we can't measure the success of our political leaders by the pork they bring us. We should measure their success by how well WV takes care of herself and provides opportunities here to improve our own standard of living.

        • Mac

          And Reagan made every American (except the the die-hard Dems) believe that there was nothing wrong in America if you worked hard, believed in yourself AND your country! He even liked the coal industry! But most importantly, we learned that Jimmy Carter, who saw the world as "on it's last leg" and "that we want everyone to love us" - except the Ayatollah Khomeini - had NO idea what he was doing. He left our 52 hostages in Tehran because he hadn’t the leadership skills as the Commander in Chief to retrieve them. (They were released on the day of President Reagan’s Inauguration. Why? Because we had a NEW sheriff in town!) Sound familiar nowadays? His fireside chats while wearing a cardigan sweater informed the nation that we were nearing a crisis on energy. Natural gas and oil supplies needed to be conserved as supplies were dwindling. (Not true now, is it!) Thermostats were to be turned back in the winter months to conserve. Daylight savings time was to start earlier and end later. Our time left on this planet was rapidly approaching. What a nut case! Now we hear from another Dem. that "global warming" is here to stay. All Americans must use less energy - especially coal - as it is destroying the planet. Yet the biggest polluters are the Chinese who could care less about what it does to the planet. So as our economy slides, China forges ahead in their new industrialized age. And those of us who don't agree are framed as "flat-earther society members." What insolence from the Sec. of State with that statement. This "woe is me" stuff is now supposed to be "woe is all" and I don't believe one bit of it. How nice of the Dems to make everyone feel so down-trodden. By making everyone feel that the end is near, they remind us as citizens that THEY are the only ones who can help us; the only ones we can trust. (And they’ve been in power since when? 2008!) Dear God, we've got to get these nut-jobs out of office! And West Virginians have got to learn the difference between the “Jackass” and the “Elephant.”

    • Stephanie

      WV are republicans at heart they just don't realize it because their grandparents taught them that they were democrats and they never bothered to look it up for themselves as to what either party stands for. My in laws did a questionaire about how they felt on fiscal and social issues and found out they were not democrats after all. The Democratic Party is so far to the left of what their grandparents stood for. My grandfather was a die hard democrat but I know he would never vote for them now because his morals wouldn't have allowed him too. People need to wake up and see what they actually stand for before saying they are democrats.

      • JMR

        What morals do Republicans have? Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, harassing and belittling the poor, voter suppression? These aren't values. These are the acts of monsters.

        • Guardian

          Where in the world did you get that dribble?

          Racism? Without Lincoln's courage (a Republican), there would still be slavery. Without Republican votes in the Senate and the House, LBJ's Civil Rights Law goes down in flames - and that included overcoming a Democrat filibuster in the Senate.

          Voter suppression? Seriously??? All Republicans have ever supported was being able to PROVE you are a citizen to vote. And that is wrong, how???

          Belittling the poor?? Bullcrap. We want to provide jobs to the poor - not keep them on welfare and poor forever.

          The other items - are social issues. All Republicans have ever said is that government has no business whatsoever being involved in social issues, or being in our bedrooms.

        • Tom wv

          JMR..... You watch to much liberal news.

      • Hillboy

        I think most West Virginians are Libertarians at heart but don't realize it.

    • Guardian

      Mike of Mingo - Ronald Wilson Reagan said it best, ". . . government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

      If folks want to get a CLEAR vision of what most Americans want and desire from our politicans and government in general, then just take the time to "Google" Ronald Reagan's quotes. Read them - think about them. You'll realize how wise this man was.

      • Jason412

        Guardian,

        I took your advice. I will now post my favorite Reagan quote I've found, read, and thought about. Well, two, but they address the same issue

        "In spite of the wildly speculative and false stories of arms for hostages and alleged ransom payments, we did not—repeat, did not—trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we."

        - Ronald Reagan, November 1986

        "A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not."

        - Ronald Reagan, March 1987


        Doesn't sound much better than the mess of an administration we currently have. I guess the difference is 14 people from the Reagan administration were criminally charged, and 11 convicted.

        As evident by the IRS scandal, the last thing most American's want is an administration full of people who wont tell the truth to Congress under oath.

        • Hop'sHip

          My favorite: "I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency -- even if I'm in a Cabinet meeting."

          I don't worship Reagan, like many here do, but I did appreciate his sense of humor, especially his ability to be self-deprecating. I don't think he took himself too seriously. That seems rare among today's conservatives.

        • Guardian

          He took responsibility - publically in an address to the nation. Fat chance you'll get that from Obama. Even Bill Clinton finally came clean - again to the nation.

          Members of Reagan's administration who participated in Iran-Contra were tried, several found guilty, and served time. In just the IRS debacle, do you really think someone will go down on this one?

          You need to go back to "Google" and come back to this august audience and give us a better report on Reagan's quotes. You cherry picked that one.

        • The bookman

          Jason,

          You actually looked and found those two quotes as his best? You claim to be a moderate and look at things objectively, but anyone looking at the overall Presidency of Reagan in an objective way would have to agree his performance was remarkable. No one is perfect, and certainly the Iran/Contra Affair was a terrible way to blemish his record, but as Aaron accurately states, the two quotes are not contradictory to one another, and Reagan took the heat instead of passing the buck on his previous statement. The Greatest President of my Lifetime, bar none has been Ronald Reagan, and it is terribly depressing that I see no one like him out there. His medicine is desperately needed.

          • Jason412

            Bookman,

            I'm also frustrated about Obama, G.W. Bush, Clinton, and Bush Sr but no one ever posts "If you want a clear vision of what most America's want, look up Bush Sr and Obama"

            Also, I don't accept that it's a tremendous amount of responsibility, so some corruption is to be expected, accepted, and in hindsight over looked.

            I don't know what your definition of "personally attached" would consist of, but authorizing the sale of arms to Iran in 1985, not only without Congressional approval but in direct defiance of Congress, is personally attached in my book.

            Have a good week end my friend

          • The bookman

            Jason,

            You seem a bit frustrated about Reagan. Can you imagine the amount of oversight it would take for one man to bear the responsibility of the behavior of those in the federal government? Power corrupts the virtuous, and many politicians succumb to the worst behavior. I'm sure there were other examples known and not known during Reagan's term in office. But I don't think that passes the test as labeling his administration corrupt. And I know he was never personally attached to any of the corruption you mention.

            In the end, like it or not, Reagan was a Great President, his 8 years turned economic malaise into American Prosperity, he brought about the end to the Cold War peacefully, and will go down in the annals of this country's Presidents as one of the best. Paint whatever picture you wish of him, but remember to sign your name, as it also paints a picture of you.

          • Jason412

            Bookman, Guardian, and Aaron,

            (hit enter to soon on that last one)

            I would also add the Iran-Contra was just the worst of the scandals

            The HUD Scandal - 6 members of the administration, including Secretary of Interior, convicted on criminal charges

            EPA Scandal - 1 convicted on criminal charges, head of EPA held in contempt of Congress

            Inslaw Scandal - Deputy A.G. and Justice Department official held in contempt of Congress.

            Lobbying Scandal - former Chief of Staff and Press secretary convicted on criminal charges.


            and, while not a scandal and can't be blamed solely on Reagan, it's worth mentioning

            Savings & Loan crisis - Cost taxpayers at least $124 billion dollars, according to the FDIC.



            I'm sure I'm missing something.


            I certainly hope we have an administration in the future that can provide the "medicine" needed, without repeatedly breaking the law, lying to Congress, and circumventing the Constitution as deemed necessary.

          • Jason412

            Bookman, Guardian, and Aaron,

          • Jason412

            Bookman, and anyone else who says he took responsibility,

            Reagan stood in front of the nation and said we did not trade arms for hostages. He told America he had not condoned arm sales from Israel to Iran. What is never mentioned is that he approved both of those, and signed a Finding. The Finding was destroyed by Poindexter, but it was replaced.

            Is that really accepting responsibility? Denying it for months, then when you absolutely can't deny it any longer and you say whoops, yeah I thought one thing, but another has proven to be true. He passed the buck until the last possible minute.

            I didn't say anything about Reagan's economic policies. But if you can overlook a scandal as big as the Iran-Contra as a blemish, I would suggest it is you who is not looking at it objectively.

            In the end there's a President who was either directly involved, or at absolute best had no clue what his National Security Advisers were doing. The Constitution requires that the President "take care that the laws be faithfully executed". Reagan did not do that.

            I refuse to accept that another Reagan is the best possible outcome for America. I like to think we could have a President with good economic policies, without having members of his Administration criminally charged and participating in cover-ups.


            I'll ask again, in 2016 if Obama stands in front of the nation and says he was sorry, but he thought he was doing the right thing. How many of you will accept that as him accepting responsibility?

          • Silas Lynch

            claims to be a moderate? And you believed him?.. I'm more of a moderate than he and I made a conscious decision to be MORE partisan

        • Aaron

          For me the biggest difference is, unlike the current President, Reagan accepted responsibility for what happened with his administration.

          • Jason412

            If there was full accountability, I would respect that. There wasn't full accountability.

            In 2016 if Obama says

            "A few years ago, I told the American people I had their best interests in mind. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and evidence tell me it's not"

            Would you take that as accepting responsibility?

      • Hillboy

        Ronald Wilson Reagan said it best, ". . . government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

        I once knew some people who were Anarchists. They pretty much said the same thing.

    • Jason412

      Mike of Mingo,

      Do you have a link to Biden saying that? I'm pretty sure that's from an Animal House movie, and can't find any record or video that states other wise.

  • DWM

    I'm wondering if the 49.9% includes the dearly departed. If it excludes them, then the Dems are still around 60% of voters and need not worry.

    • Mike of Mingo

      If you take away the Dead and Departed were not counted that would take the Democrats down to around 38%. For some reason, the Dead always vote Democratic. This is true for West Virginia as well as in the rest of the United States.

      • JMR

        Why do right-wingers come up with these verifiably untrue lies?

        • Silas Lynch

          Do you not keep up with current events?

  • Aaron

    Cecil Roberts said it best. National Democrats and those who ardently support their platform (including Jesus according to one lib) no longer care about people who have to take a shower before they go to bed.

    • Hillboy

      That's a good quote. For the most part, I would say that it is true of both parties though. The Republicans have been much more skillful lately at pushing the right buttons to get the ballot box support of the disgruntled working class voters, but usually do little on their behalf once they're elected. Because it costs so much to get elected, both parties now largely represent the well-off and the well-connected---i.e. their own self-interest.

      • Wirerowe

        I think on any issues the republican go beyond pandering and support issues that are important to working people: they support coal jobs for miners, keystone pipeline jobs for construction workers, policies that support growth in manufacturing and not growth in regulations, the second amendment, social issues although this is a mixed bad and fiscal responsibility and accountability in federal programs.

        • Hillboy

          The other perspective on some of the examples you provide is that, yes, these projects create jobs, but they also, perhaps, more importantly, benefit the investors and corporations that will profit much more from them. Republicans have not been strong on health and safety for mine, construction, and factory workers (too many bothersome regulations) so there is legitimate reason to question whose bread is really being buttered.

          • Hillboy

            I don't believe Republicans are necessarily out to get the working man. But, for the establishment Republicans, who are still, for now, in control of the party, if they are forced to choose between business interests and the working man they are going to come down on the side of business almost all of the time. It's not an issue of good or evil, just a matter of priorities.

            (Although, if you take it to the limit, say for example with someone like Don Blankenship, you have clearly entered the realm of immorality.)

          • The bookman

            I agree with you, and did read the thread. But I don't believe it is an accurate representation of Republicans. In fact, the slimmer the margins, the greater the temptation to trim wages and shirk safety protocols. Yes, people view The GOP as stuffed shirts out to get the working man, but I don't believe its accurate.

          • Hillboy

            Bookman, if you go back to my first post I didn't give either party credit for being pro worker so I'm not sticking up for Dems. I would agree with you that WV Dems haven't done much for workers, but on a national basis I think most people would conclude that Dems have done more for worker health and safety and wages than Reps.

          • The bookman

            I think that is a misnomer, Hillboy. Republicans aren't anti worker just because they are pro profit. Wealth creation for all classes requires profit driven economies. And although you state wage stagnation and worker safety are monkeys on the backs of Republicans, in a state where Democrats have controlled every facet of government through many generations, how do you hang our poor record on those two issues on Republicans?

          • Hillboy

            Indeed you do. I'm not saying that investing and corporations are bad. I'm saying that job creation for the working class is not the primary reason for most construction projects, for mining, or manufacturing---it's profit. Which is fine but let's not then give Reps bonus points for being on the side of the working class just because of incidental job creation, especially when they have been, at best, tepid when it comes to occupational health and safety issues, and cost of living increases.

          • Aaron

            Do you not have to have successful corporations and isn't a return on investments necessary to provide capital to create jobs?

        • Wirerowe

          Sorry any should read many

    • Wirerowe

      Excellent point Aaron. Thanks for reminding us. Perfect characterization by Cecil Roberts

    • Silas Lynch

      I thought that the best catch-phrase to ever come from a unionist.

  • Guardian

    Here's are the main things for which WV voters - nay, even national voters - are seeking in a political party platform - 1) fiscal responsibility in government (spend only what you can pay for), 2) strong national defense, 3) social programs that give a hand up - not a hand out, 4) term limits - we don't want career politicians, we want citizen politicians as the founders envisioned, 5) get spending back to the basics - infrastucture, defense, foreign trade regulation, monetary regulation, and law enforcement, 6) controlled immigration and border security, 7) immigrants that assimilate into OUR societal norms and customs, not forcing THEIR societal norms and customs upon us, 8) a national energy policy that embraces ALL forms of energy and excludes NONE, and 9) removing the government from our bedrooms and from our religious beliefs or our non-beliefs - these are matters of personal choice and government has no business and never had any business in being involved in the first place.

    No political party has such a platform as that above. Thus, we desparately need one that does.

    • GregG

      Great post Guardian!! Might I suggest a few more? Such as......Run all lobbyists out of DC. Forbid any campaign contributions from Big Business or special interests groups. Set limits (very low) on personal campaign contributions. And pull the tax exempt status of any organization or religious group that injects themselves into politics in any manner.

      • Guardian

        Forbid any campaign contributions from Big Business and special interest groups (of which there are hundreds of every stripe imaginable) - that premise is just fine with me - IF AND ONLY IF you also prohibit any campaign contributions from any organized labor organization, union or any and all PACs.

        • GregG

          Yes Guardian that includes unions, labor organizations and PACS. Although I'm a strong supporter of unions I don't believe any "group" should be allowed to buy political seats.

        • Silas Lynch

          A special interest group, be them the NRA or NOW, are citizens exercising their right to assemble and petition the government. Wouldn't you agree?

          • GregG

            Assemble and petition is one thing...........buying political seats is another.

    • dragonsking

      +1

    • Mike of Mingo

      amen brother

  • Jim N Charleston

    Skippy,

    There are still enough registered dead democrats voting in Logan, Lincoln, Boone, & Mingo counties to keep Rahall in office. They are the most loyal democrats in WV.

    Still, there are limits. The dead don't like Tennant so they are going Capito in the US Senate race.

    All I got
    I'm Jim N Daytona Beach
    L8

    • JMR

      A comment of pure idiocy.

    • Silas Lynch

      Jim, can you be more specific of who these "loyal democrats" are... Well, here, let Bob Hope in "The Ghost Breakers" explain it. Probably the most accurate description thus far.

      I've always thought the "Walkers" in Walking Dead to metaphorically be a representation of modern liberals in the event of the cultural war turned hot-- or more precisely "Obamanites"

      • Silas Lynch

        sorry, forgot to paste the linkhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5PInhXkfvs

  • wornoutwv

    When those who are registering as independents get some candidates of their own to vote for then maybe we can see a real difference.

  • JTC

    Before everybody gets all excited the fact is that young new people registering have no clue about either party or could care less, when approached to register they just say no party because they do not have any idea what either party stands for. It is more a said state of affairs on the cluelessness of our youth.