West Virginia Democrats have benefitted for many years from straight ticket voting on Election Day. There aren’t many leading Democrats who haven’t urged people to “scratch the rooster” on their ballot a few times over the years.
However, the advantage of straight ticket voting in the 2012 general election may lie more with the Republicans. President Barrack Obama is atop the Democrat ticket and his popularity is dismal in West Virginia.
“I think there are a lot of West Virginians saying, ‘It can be better in West Virginia,” said former Republican Party Chairman Mike Stuart. “You’re going to see a lot of folks from southern West Virginia who are not happy that Nick Rahall has been so close to Obama. They’re going to mark that box at the top to send a message to Washington.”
Former West Virginia Democrat Party Chairman George Carenbauer believes Stuart’s assessment is wishful thinking.
“I think there’s going to be a good bit of split voting this time,” Carenbauer said Monday on MetroNews Talkline. “Senator Manchin is extremely popular. He’s probably the most popular person in West Virginia.”
Carenbauer believes there will be a near equal number of straight tickets voters for both parties in this year’s election. Carenbauer isn’t a fan of the straight ticket anymore. He believes over the last 20 years as the number of Democrats has fallen and given rise to the non-party registration it’s no longer an advantage to his party. He fears straight ticket voting doesn’t hurt the local candidates–but is more a threat to those seeking statewide office that may be unfamiliar with those candidates.
“Those are offices an individual voter may not be very familiar with,” he said. “That would be our board of public works.”
Stuart is likewise a champion of getting rid of the straight ticket option. He believes with the Democrats possibly taking a hit, this may be the time to do away with it.
“I’ve thrown out there for a long time and my party has said we need to end this practice because it’s not helpful to the Democratic process and in many cases skews it,” Stuart said. “Voters have a basic responsibility to know who they’re voting for, what they’re voting for and go through the ballot.”