Last Tuesday in West Virginia’s Democratic Primary, Hillary Clinton lost big. If you’re a Democrat hoping to capture the White House in November, that should give you a pause…
If there was a phrase for the remaining Republican and Democratic primaries from now till their respective conventions, it would be “going through the motions.” With Donald Trump being the only candidate in the GOP primary field and Hillary Clinton looking like the eventual nominee for the Democrats, we’re just waiting for the general election at this point. Because for all intents and purposes, it will be Clinton v Trump in the general election.
So if you weren’t on the edge of your seat to see the results of last Tuesday’s primaries, you would be forgiven. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the results from Tuesday night can’t be construed as important. Particularly when it comes to West Virginia’s Democratic Primary, because the results were definitely… odd.
Last Tuesday night, Bernie Sanders handily beat Clinton with a 51 to 36 victory in the West Virginia primary.
Now before we go on, we want to be absolutely clear about something. At this point in the primary, Clinton is winning the nomination. Sanders supporters may be doing their best Lloyd impression from Dumb and Dumber after the West Virginia primary results came in, but even with this big win for Sanders, the delegate math is just on Clinton’s side. However, Sanders winning West Virginia so convincingly should give the Clinton campaign some considerable pause. After all, West Virginia is one of the most conservative states in the US, so why the hell did Sanders win the state so convincingly?
Well… there are two schools of thought on what happened last Tuesday.
- There are few minority voters in West Virginia. During the 2016 Democratic primaries, Clinton has been able to get the majority of Latino and Black voters to her cause. In West Virginia however, the majority of the population look to be working-class Whites, a demographic that the Sanders campaign has been able to attract in the last few primary races.
- Voters in West Virginia felt that the Sanders campaign was the closest to an “anti-establishment” pick in the Democratic Party, so if you didn’t like Clinton’s message – or specifically her ties to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) insiders – Sanders was your alternative.
Regardless of what theory you subscribe to, either one should give Democrats a pause for concern, because they both spell trouble for Clinton in the general election!
The two demographics that Donald Trump has been able to handily get are working-class White voters and those who are looking for an “anti-establishment” candidate. On the Democratic side, these are exactly the same voting blocs Clinton has been unable to generate enthusiasm for. The question remains however, could these Democrats cross over?
Traditionally the answer would be no. Working-class White voters tend to vote whoever becomes their respective nominee – that would mean for those working-class Whites who are voting for Sanders, traditionally would vote for Clinton in the general election – and those searching for an anti-establishment candidate either support the Democratic Party’s nominee or just stay at home on election day. But as we have said before, this isn’t a traditional election.
Trump was never supposed to attract the kind of fervent base that has surfaced nor was he to be the GOP’s presidential nominee. What’s even more concerning; the base that Trump has built is on the two voting blocs Clinton has had trouble attracting in the Democratic primaries.
The best case scenario for the Democrats here?
In the case of West Virginia, the Clinton campaign is hoping that pimple or a boil just ends up being a gummy bear! For them, the demographics that lead to the Sanders beat-down is concerning. If working-class Whites and voters who are attracted to party outsiders were to crossover to Trump, that could be a huge problem for them come November. But as it stands right now, based on head-to-head polling between Clinton and Trump, they don’t seem too concerned. Which if you were to listen to conventional wisdom, it’s probably the smart move.
Then again Trump is the GOP nominee and conventional wisdom sure didn’t see that one coming!
(Photo Credits: Hillary Clinton’s Instagram Account, Google Images)