The West Virginia Democratic Party and many of its candidates took an old fashioned butt whuppin’ Tuesday.  The results of federal and state races were a resounding rejection of the majority party, bringing to an official end the 80-plus year Democratic dominance.

But like most overnight sensations, this one was years in the making.

The first signs of change occurred in 2000.  George Bush beat Al Gore in West Virginia on his way to the Presidency, becoming the first non-incumbent Republican to carry the Mountain State since Herbert Hoover.  That same year, Shelley Moore Capito narrowly defeated Democrat Jim Humphreys in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District race.

Capito reeled off six more victories, while long-time 1st District Congressman Alan Mollohan was knocked out in the 2010 Democratic Primary by Michael Oliverio, who then lost to Republican David McKinley in the General Election. Tuesday, McKinley won his third consecutive term.

In 2004, Republican Brent Benjamin won a state Supreme Court seat from Democratic incumbent Warren McGraw, and then in 2012, McGraw’s brother, Darrell, was defeated by Republican Patrick Morrisey for Attorney General.

The state Democratic Party lost its best top-of-the-ticket candidate when Senator Robert Byrd died in 2010. Meanwhile, Barack Obama moved the national Democratic Party farther to the left, forcing West Virginia Democrats to run against their own kind.

NBC News exit polling in the Capito-Tennant race found 75 percent of West Virginia voters Tuesday either strongly disapprove (58%) or somewhat disapprove (17%) of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President.

That headwind turned many Democratic candidates into tumbleweed, rolling aimlessly across the political landscape.  You can’t run against your opponent and your own party and expect voters to conclude anything other than it’s a distinction without a difference.

Also, blue-voting labor unions have seen their influence decline. The United Mine Workers union has lost membership, while retirees have died off.  This election cycle the labor-financed PACs spent over $2 million in state legislative races only to see Democrats lose 19 seats to Republicans in the House of Delegates and eight Democratic Senate seats flip to Republican (one Republican seat flipped to Democrat).

And now we learn that a party switch by state Senator Daniel Hall from Wyoming County gives the GOP an 18-16 advantage in the Senate.

Capito’s campaign didn’t simply ride the wave; it helped create it.  The Republican’s Senate bid was a near-flawless drive that was months, if not years, in the making.  Instead of relying strictly on ads, the Capito campaign also went grass roots, knocking on over 20,000 doors and making 450,000 phone calls in the final week of the campaign.

Tuesday night was not an aberration. It was a seismic shift in West Virginia’s political landscape that’s been building.  The post-election question for the Democratic Party is how they keep from losing even more ground in 2016.


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  • jim

    West Virginians have always been more Republican than Democrat, they are just now figuring that out.

  • Jesse's girl

    It amazes me that the need for a 2-party system is now to being touted as good in WV after the Republicans take control of both houses of the West Virginia Legislature. Where was this concern during the 84 years when the Democrats and unions (but I am redundant) ruled West Virginia with an iron fist?

    BTW, I was delighted to see that Jill Upson was elected to the WV House of Delegates from Dist. 65, Jefferson County and Saira Blair, Dist. 59, Berkeley County. AND Mia Love elected from Utah to the US House of Representatives. Of course, Lt. Col. Joni Ernst from IA to the US Senate.

    • Jason412

      Jesse's girl,

      Can you elaborate on what you feel Saira Blair brings to the table?

      Don't get me wrong, I think it's cool she won and more power to her. It's a hell of a resume builder that's for sure, but I'm glad I don't live in Berkeley County.

      • WV Guru

        One word, Youth!

      • Jesse's girl

        I have no problem with the election of Saira Blair. She had to convince the voters of Berkeley County that she could do the job and she did.

        A just re-elected legislator from my area is far more known for his extra-curricular activities than prowess in his elected capacity. Although in several important positions, he claimed to be unable to do anything. In a campaign ad he took full credit for something he opposed until told to get on board. Another has been involved in writing sloppy legislation which caused the state some serious problems after the last session.

        Yes, I will be willing to give Saira Blair a chance as were the voters of Berkeley County. Unlike the 2 above, she is known as a fiscal conservative. Unlike the 2 above, she was endorsed by the NRA. I have no doubt that she will spend her days working to make WV better and not contemplating another office sofa conquest.

        • Aaron

          i'm not trying to take anything away from this young lady but to say she convinced voters of anything is not true. She was elected because of her last name-see daddy the State Senator and her party affiliation. I'm sure there are a lot of good people that were elected yesterday but the reality is there were some elected solely because of their party affiliation.

          • liberty4all


            Would also add/ask how at 18 she can "be known as a fiscal conservative"? Has she ran a business? Had to face budgetary constraints? Practiced fiscal conservatism in her previous elected positions?

        • Jesse's girl

          Just watched a clip of Saira Blair on Fox&Friends this morning. When asked for her platform and views, she stated: I am pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and pro-US Constitution. I believe in having a voter ID and I oppose same-sex marriage. When asked how she talked w/ liberal friends, Saira said she tried to just present the facts and illustrated: "WV is 49th or 50th in everything good and 1 or 2 in the bad things and the Democrats have had control for more than 83 years."

          Sounds like me. So what if she is 18.

    • Wowbagger

      Jesse's Girl,

      I for one have been concerned about West Virginia's one party system for about 55 of my 64 years, but I grew up in a political environment and have long realized I am in the minority.

  • Dewey Norman

    When the democrats turned on Charlotte Pritt and supported Cecil Underwood is when I went to a Independent. I really hope things get better but I really don't have much faith in that either.

  • zero tolerance

    Its a great day to be a Republican in the State of West Virginia, no matter where you are!

  • Danny WV

    Many of you are saying the same thing. I don't believe anyone can explain the results of the election in an honest way until you realize that many people inour state cannot read or write and the ones that can don't. They only repeat what they hear and the Republicans were able to use the coalfield layoffs to their advantage. It has never been abot what you do in office. It has always been what you make people believe you have done!

    • Jesse's girl

      Wow!! I have never though so poorly of my fellow West Virginians. I have known many non-college educated people who have an abundance of intelligence and common sense who engage in lively conversation and thought. Conversely, I know too many "college educated" with neither. They are incredible bores who can only mouth platitides from some website and call anyone who disagrees stupid and uneducated.

      My late daddy, 2 brothers and I all earned PhD's. That means I can read--and write. Your "conventional wisdom" is so predictably wrong. "Conventional," maybe--"wisdom," never.

      • St. Jimmy

        I gotta say it again, WVU's loss when they passed on you.

        • William Glasser


    • Aaron

      How does your take explain Republicans gaining control of United States Senate and increasing the House representation to the largest margin in over 50 years Danny?

    • JustaFan

      So the people who voted republican are stupid? I guess they were just as stupid when they were voting for democrats pre-Obama. This is why the dems lost power. They just don't get it.

    • Wireorowe

      The eastern panhandle of West Virginia could care less about coal and some may even be a it coal. But the area is overwhelmingly republican. Would you please not use such long sentences, we have a hard enough time reading and writing as it is, My
      take is different than yours.the national Democratic Party has turned its back on the salt of the the earth working people who were the blood and guts of the party and propelled the party to many victories,

      • Watching

        Being in politics, I have to watch as the Trial Attorneys have run both ends of the Capital. This should be a true eye opener for WV Dems, for which I am one. Far to long we have let the liberals of our party run things. I received many calls from my fellow democrats yesterday wondering what was next. Do I change parties, and start believing everything they say on FOX News and the B.S. Bray Cary spouts? I think not. I think the true WV democrats need to take back our party. I don't trust the republicans to do what is right for the true working people of our state, but have we as democrats done any better? The days of tax, tax, tax, so we can give those who will not do, a better life is over. No one deserves a check because of a bad attitude or because they won't work. There is a ditch that needs dug out there somewhere. ( What my Dad would say to me, when I whined that I had no money). It's a new day in WV, will it benefit us all? It is time to be realistic, and not idealistic. Also, Daniel Hall is a good man, and what I consider a good friend. We have fought a few battles together in Charleston. I look forward to working with him again. As I read that he stated, "It's not about the party, but the people I represent". No truer words were ever spoken. There is a big need in Charleston for more like him..... Just my feeling. But, I could be wrong.....

  • jay zoom

    2 - 4 - or even six years from now the picture will be the same. when is America going to wake up and see this. in this day and age its all for me and my prestige and the hell with the people nationwide or the state I represent. HIDE AND WATCH

  • Wirerowe

    One night the most influential political person in West Virginia was Joe Manchin.the next night the two most influential political figures in the state were Shelly Moore Capito and Bill Cole. Different world out there. Not going to be turned around over night by any Reoublican blunders or any democrat magic.

  • Butt whuppin

    All these cheerleaders need to understand a two party system is a GOOD thing. Sadly, our parties have no balance or diversity to be effective. To all the gloaters on cloud nine, are you 5? Ever hear of cyclical politics? I think a few here will be jumping off cliffs when the pendulum swings back.

    • ViennaGuy

      A two-party system is a very good thing, no question about it.

    • TD

      It seems like a gigantic shift, in WV no doubt it was, but the average for a mid term election in the 6th year of a presidency is pretty much in line with historical change. Since 1900 the president's party always loses, average of 25 house seats and 5.5 senate seats. Dems lost about 15 house seats and 7 senate seats so pretty much in line with what always happens.

      • peleliu

        Finally someone who knows about political history,yes the Dems lost the battle but the war will be 2016 when there is a bunch of senate seats up for grabs. If the Reps. can not run the govt.better then the the 8 years under Bush it could very well flip back.
        I just hope the Republicans do not get us in another Bush 2 war of "Mission Accomplished and good job Brownie" environment.

        • Aaron

          Republicans did not have control for 8 years, they lost control of Congress in 2006. If history repeats itself then Republicans will win the White House and retain control of Congress in 2016. The repudiation of their leadership and politics will not come until the 2018th midterm elections.

          • Aaron

            The biggest problem I have with Ben Carson is not that he opposes programs that Aided him when he was young, I understand that as he knows firsthand what that lifestyle can do to a family.

            The issues I have is that he's not Held public office and while that is not a prerequisite I'm not sure being a doctor or that his positions or opinions qualifiy him for the highest office in the land.

            Given that we are in the midst of an unqualified candidacy and that failed So badly that voters INCREASED John Boehnrr's power and made Mitch McConnel the leader of the Senate, we should probably stop experimenting with that office.

          • The bookman

            John Kasich from that very important state of Ohio.

          • Jason412


            Good answer, Scott Walker is a sort of emerging superstar in the Republican party.

            Chris Christie I think has no chance whatsoever of actually being the President. Never thought he did, the last year or so has reaffirmed that belief.

            Ben Carson has never held an office and is to much of a double talker. On one hand he says welfare takes away peoples incentive to work, on the other hand he is a successful neurosurgeon who "received food stamps and we wouldn't have made it without them". Although, saying one thing and doing another would qualify him to be a standard politician.

            Ted Cruz I also think has no chance, even a lot of Republican's try to distance themselves from him. Although I could see the same people who still believe Obama was born in Kenya would have no problem with Cruz being born in Canada and that whole crowd would support him.

            After the election, Hilary's prospects sure aren't looking as bright as they were a few months ago. Unless Republican's really screw up bad before 2016, it seems like the last person to get elected would be someone who was part of the Obama administration. Democrat's should probably start looking elsewhere for a candidate.

            If things go good under the Republican Congress, Scott Walker could have a real chance.

            Just one man's opinion.

          • Aaron

            I have no idea. I do not bieve Paul or Cruz can win a general election so I have no idea who they choose. I won't be surprised if both parties nominees closely mirror the 2008 election of Obama.

            In 2006 and 07, he was mentioned as a potential candidate but was never really given any serious consideration as the nomination was all but Hillary's to lose. Lose she did.

            As to 2016, I don't think Chris Christie has a legitimate shot but I can see a little known governor or Congressional representative running a very good campaign, utilizing social media and stealing the nomination on the Republican side. If I had to go out on a limb right now I would say someone like Scott Walker out of Wisconsin.

            I think barring health issues Hillary will run into 2916 because her ego demands it, and while I could possibly support her depending on the Republican nominee, I think she loses to Elizabeth Warren in the primary election.

          • Jason412


            Who do you see Republican's nominating for a presidential run? Cruz? Paul? I hear Ben Carson is already releasing a campaign style 40 minute documentary on himself, started running commercials for it yesterday.

      • joeyjojo

        The dems are going to lose 9 senate seats not 7. Average in the 6th year of a presidency since WWII is 6.6.

  • TD

    Eternally optimistic I found some hope in McConnel's message yesterday, "we won't be shutting down the gov't or defaulting on our debt". I hope that he's in charge and that Boehner feels the same but in the RNC media celebration of their victory what was the backdrop? Was it a hopeful message? No, it was a big re sign reading STOP OBAMA, FIRE REID. Rush Limbaurgh's preached, "Republicans, you did not win to govern, you did not win to work with Democrats, you won to STOP OBAMA".

    This has been my beef with Republicans for the past 6 years, despite our country being in serious trouble when Obama took office the night of his inauguration Republicans had a meeting in DC and emerged with a plan. Oppose the president on everything. Well I guess that worked for them as they now are in control BUT AT SOME POINT YOU HAVE TO GOVERN and I honestly don't know if they realize that.

    • Jesse's girl

      I wish they had opposed Obama more vigorously as he gathered his "Czars" and wiped his nether end with the US Constitution. His "executive orders" are outside what they are meant to be, but since you always howl "racist" every time someone objects to one of the "annointed's" POLICIES or IDEOLOGIES, the Republicans have acted like spineless jellyfish. Obama is not black as much as he is "red" and that is incompatible with the US Constitution.

      As General Russel Honore would say: "You are stuck on stupid." Then there is the quip: "Duct tape can't fix 'stupid' but it can muffle the sound."

      • Hop'sHip

        I'm curious if you were equally concerned about the number of Czars in the last administration? I believe there were more. Or were those good Czars? Constitutional Czars? I bet you applauded the faith-based Czar.

    • WV Common Tater

      I would suggest that you read the Constitution of who writes the laws in this Country. Hint, it ain't the President, his/her job is to implement.

    • The bookman

      Let's hope, not only that they know they must govern, but that they are anxious to do so, and already have a plan. Time's a wastin'!

      I would also state that the Republicans allowed themselves to be defined as obstructing the agenda of the President. What pressing legislation did the President not get through over the last 6 years? It was Harry Reid who stood in the way of the House, preventing bills from reaching the floor for a vote.

      The people have spoken loud and clear that the status quo of ineptitude and incompetence will not be tolerated. All members in government from either party should take heed that message, as the next election is but two years away.

    • arp

      TD, you apparently have NO idea how destructive people view Obama's policies to be, how unconstitutional. That's why Rush correctly says the main goal should be to stop them. He's made the IRS a criminal, political enterprise. He's used the EPA to shut down billions of dollars worth of business and industry. About to unconstitutionally legalize people who criminally entered this country. On and on and on. But, yes, the Republicans do have an agenda--Keystone pipeline, getting back companies who've moved HQ to other nations for tax purposes, securing our southern border, ending unnecessary federal regulations in order to spur the economy, many other things too numerous to mention in this space. The GOP House sent nearly 400 bills to the Senate and Reid wouldn't allow a vote. This will now change.

      • Common Sense

        If you were honest and not spewing the political rhetoric you would know the reason for the decline in coal is market based and it's been declining for the last 30 years in Appalachia. The IRS thing was left leaning groups as well but Fox News didn't report that. The economy is improving and if it wasn't for the crazy sequestration it wouldn't have been as bad for so long. Republicans govern for the few and cannot win a national election without gerrymandering districts and suppressing votes with voter laws. That's the truth and if you say it's not you're not being honest.

        • ViennaGuy

          Oh, like Democrats have never engaged in district gerrymandering?

        • Jesse's girl

          An example of "common sense" being uncommon.

        • Aaron

          How is it that rhe crazy sequester is bad in that it is holding back the economy but it's democrats tout it's success in that it cut the annual deficit from $800,000,000,000.00 to $600,000,000,000.00?

          Perhaps you can explain in detail how the sequester held back the economy?

          • Aaron

            Barrack Obama also said you don't raise taxes when economies are constricting but he did. That's part of the reason why the budget deficit was reduced. As a result of the sequester and the increased taxes this year's deficit was only $600 billion, which is still the sixth largest in history. 5 of them belong to Barrack Obama.

            You can claim that austerity does not work and lump all of Europe into one big kettle as an example but that doesn't prove anything other then you've repeated something Paul Krugman said. The reality is that cuts were minimal but the economy still rebounded better then with any other actions taken I over the past five years. Your theory is just that and the examples you give would tend to disapprove what you claim.

            Given your examples the way to treat diabetes is to force-feed the patient french fries covered in chocolate.


          • Common sense

            Yes the sequester held the economy back. You don't cut when things are bad, you cut when things are good. Look at what Europe did, they're a mess because of the austerity they implemented. Aaron, growth reduced the deficit, and if there was no sequester, the deficit would have been reduced even more.
            Tom, the public sector is a huge percent of our economy and a lot of the private sector gets its business from the public sector. When government cuts are enacted it hurts everyone and to deny it is not being honest. I'm all for cutting waste but do it when times are good. COMMON SENSE!

        • Tom wv

          So... The government sequestration was what held the economy back. So your saying the private sector has nothing to do with the economy?

      • TD

        Keep on believing the propaganda ARP, Your're the problem. When Republicans won everything in 2000 I was being chided by a right wing buddy of mine. I said well they have their chance, what I think will happen is that their policies are so bad they will screw everything in the country up. What happened? The debt exploded, the economy imploded, we were lied into war.

        Thinking that the people would see the results and realize we can't follow their course to self destruction, surely their blind supporters would wake up and stop supporting them. I guess I had too much faith in the intellect of people like you so here we go again.

        • Hop'sHip

          TD: On furthering educating you about the real world. You talk about deregulation as if it always a bad thing. Back in the 60s and 70s our economy was highly regulated and most economists now recognize it was stifling competition and suppressing the economy. The deregulation that occurred is widely recognized for contributing to the rapid economic growth that followed in the 80s & 90s. Perhaps in banking it went too far, but overall deregulation was beneficial. And the President most responsible for it? You might be surprised:

          • Aaron

            TD: On furthering educating you about the real world."

            I've read his comments for sometime now. You speak of a land of which he is unfamiliar.

        • Hop'sHip

          TD: It was Barney Frank who caused the financial crisis along with those greedy black people wanting houses they coundn't afford. We had that war won until Obama came in and handed Iraq over to his Moslem buddies. Give war and trickle down economics a chance. This is the real world.

          • Aaron

            Struggling is an understatement. It would be nice to have a real conversation with what caused the mess thus we could avoid similar circumstances in the future but instead we spent too much time playing politics.

          • The bookman


            Don't confuse him with your sarcasm. He's struggling as it is.

        • Aaron

          I love your brand of Revisionist history and can only imagine what all must go on in this fantasy world that you live in. Seriously it makes me smile every time I read one of your comments.

        • The bookman


          Have you forgotten? Nine months into Bush's first term we were attacked by terrorists, and an already faltering economy handed to Bush by Clinton fell into recession. Terrorism defined Bush's Presidency, and at least initially, was a bipartisan venture. The seeds of our financial collapse were sown before Bush, and resulted in spite of the Bush Administration's call for reforms to the mortgage industry.

          Characterizing Bush's Presidency as evidence of a failure of conservative policy in government is a disingenuous characterization and an erroneous rewrite of history.

          You have stated these misrepresentations before, and have been corrected each time. Be objective with your opinion, and avail yourself of the facts.

          • Aaron

            You have been provided the information that proves deregulation was not responsible for the mortgage back derivative problem yet you continued to state that it was. When you knowingly state information that is incorrect that makes it a lie. My question to you is why do you continue to tell that lie?

          • The bookman


            You obviously prefer fiction. If that is what makes you happy, who am I to burst your bubble? Cheers!

          • TD

            Bookie, nine eleven, nine eleven, nine eleven, you sound like "W" himself. No, the fact is their policies of deregulating Wall Street (yes Clinton signed it and he should have vetoed), tax cuts for the wealthy, lying into war, which according to Paul O'Neil they talked about invading Iraq in the very first cabinet meeting long before nine-eleven, were all disastrous for the country. As it was when Reagan did it in the 80's, quadrupled the debt in 12 years. The record of supply side and deregulation is clear. It is the exact reason we are in financial peril today. That plus a defense budget that is 1/3 bigger than it should be and a medical industry that cost almost twice what it does anywhere else in the world, and I lay those two problems primarily at the feet of Republicans.

    • Butt whuppin

      All you have to do read the thousands of comments here over the last couple days to see not one repub was elected based on any kind of merit or platform. That should tell you what we're in for.

      • Hop'sHip

        Not only that, but exit polls of the fraction of the people who DID vote found that even among them, a majority believed there should be a path to citizenship for those here illegally and that climate change was a serious threat. Go figure.

      • Tom wv

        Beg to differ. The republicans nationally didn't come out with a plan. Each one did give a plan at the local level. This strategy was used to keep the liberal media in check. I think it worked !

        • liberty4all

          Where do you live? I found that at the local and state levels, this election cycle was the worst in memory where candidates from both parties simply threw slogans around and said little to nothing substantively of how they would change the conditions in our state. Perhaps you were served well in your district.

  • David

    Voter apathy or turnout was never an issue when democrats were winning....

  • CaptainQ

    Hoppy, Tuesday's election results will be analyzed and over-analyzed for many months and years to come. One thing is certain, the days of WV voters simply roboticly marking their ballots for Democratic candidates each election cycles is over.

    Much is being made out of the fact that only 37 percent of the electorate voted. The bottom line there is this: to borrow a quote from the British, "tough cheese!" If West Virginia's two major political parties can't motivate their faithful followers to vote, that's THEIR problem. Voter apathy is a national problem, not just in the Mountain State, that has really no clear solution.

    With the change in the WV Senate, the GOP now has complete control of both chambers in Charleston. Democrats may whine about how the Republicans got control of the Senate, but the real reason they're upset is that THEY couldn't pull that trick off first. Be that as it may, WV could now witness Washington DC style gridlock as the GOP dominated legislature will crank out bill after bill that Governor Tomblin will quickly veto as soon as they reach his desk. Of course, Earl Ray, who cannot technically run for reelection as Governor, has nothing to lose if he decides to actually approve all those bills.

    The 2015 WV Legislative Session just became a whole lot more interesting.

  • Myron

    I would hope the new Republican majority understands the overdue significant raises due public teachers now!

    • Bill MC

      I think not! Teachers and State Policemen are not the only state employees. They need to think of other employees other than teachers and the State Police. Just an FYI I do not work for any government agency. But all we every hear going into the start of the session is how much money are the teachers going to get. I believe WVDOT and service worker in the school system needs raises first. No raises for any Senator or house member or cabinet member either. Its time to give raises to the workers on the lower end of the wage scale.

      • St. Jimmy

        These are small government conservatives, why in the world would you think that government employee compensation is even a consideration. Look forward to a focus on abortions, guns, gays and gods.

    • Aaron

      As I told you yesterday they got the memo from Chris Christie.

    • Now

      Raises for all state workers are needed. State is losing quality workers fast because of pay. Add in all the crap that DOP is pulling and this state is in a sad shape. Thanks Joe and Earl Ray.

  • Shinnston Guy

    No arguments here, Hop. Personally the D's had their chance after the 2006 midterms, and instead of sticking the nail in the proverbial R's coffin, they chose Pelosi and Reid to be their leaders. As we all know, Pelosi lost the House a short time later, and now Reid is gone. I only fear that McConnell is just going to be a Reid in R's clothing. I was hoping the R's would revolt and pick a different Majority Leader. Oh well, Congress has way too many cranky old white guys (both parties) to hope for that change! Cheers to the thought of compromise!

  • proudlyconservative

    Does 37 percent turnout equal resounding?

    • DeeDee

      The people who make the effort to vote in the midterms are the serious voters who've thought about their choices. The ones who show up by the busloads during presidential elections are less likely to know what the issues are or anything about the candidates. I take the under 40% opinion during midterms much more seriously than the low information voters who vote in presidential elections.

    • Aaron


    • Medman

      proudly, Do you think the "no shows" were happy with this Administration and the direction the country is going. The fact that they did not vote may be an important message to incumbents.

  • The bookman

    The Republican Party deserves credit for fielding a candidate in every race that truly competes for the office. WV is a conservative state first, red or blue as a designation second. But it wasn't long ago that our general election largely occurred in the Primary, and Democrats were the only participants.

    Our political choices in our elections are finally reflecting our Conservative ideals because we finally have a real choice in the general. Kudos to those candidates who have been willing to stand up and be counted.