CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginians overwhelmingly favored businessman Donald Trump in the presidential race, giving the Republican candidate five electoral college votes.
Networks called the state for Trump within minutes of polls closing.
West Virginians have sided with Republicans in five consecutive presidential races dating back to 2000. The last time a Democrat presidential candidate carried West Virginia was Bill Clinton in 1996.
Trump overwhelmingly led in polls in West Virginia leading up to Election Day. The MetroNews West Virginia Poll conducted by Rex Repass and Associates had Trump with a 49 percent to 31 percent lead over Hillary Clinton in West Virginia on Sept. 1. At the time, the remaining percentage was undecided.
West Virginians largely lined up behind Trump because of his promises to bring back the coal industry and to support the natural gas industry.
Trump campaigned in Charleston on May 6 during the primary election season, donning a hard hat presented by the West Virginia Coal Association. About 12,000 supporters rallied that night at the Charleston Civic Center.
“We’re going to put the miners back to work,” Trump told the Civic Center crowd. “We’re going to get those mines open.”
At the time, Trump promised he would return to West Virginia before the general election.
“I’ll be back,” he said then. “And I’ll be back more than once or twice even. Because this is a very important state to win. America will be great again. We’ll be America first. We’ll start winning, winning, winning. And for those miners, get ready. Because you are going to be working your asses off.”
Hillary Clinton also visited West Virginia during the primary election cycle.
By the time she arrived, many West Virginians already were well aware of a comment Clinton had made during a March 13 CNN Town Hall. She said she would be putting a lot of coal miners out of work because of clean energy policies.
She had followed that by saying she wanted to create new economic opportunities for current coal workers, possibly through clean energy development.
Her full quote was:
“So, for example, I’m the only candidate who has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?
“And we want to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories.”
When Clinton met with Williamson residents during a campaign swing through West Virginia in May, she apologized for her remark and tried to explain it.
“It was a misstatement because what I was saying was that the way things are going now we will continue to lose jobs,” she said then. “That’s what I meant to say and I think that it seems to be supported by the facts. I didn’t mean that we were going to do it. What I said was that was going to happen unless we take action to try to help and prevent it.”