How West Virginia Highlights Hillary Clinton’s Woes, Forecasts Possible Nomination Defeat

West Virginia delivered Hillary Clinton one of the former Secretary of State’s last wins in the 2008 Democratic primary race.

In 2016, West Virginia could deliver yet another fate-sealing decision for Hillary Clinton’s bid to become the Democratic nominee. This time, however, Hillary could be on the losing end of the race, a new West Virginia media poll suggested on Monday.

The poll — conducted by West Virginia company REPASS Research — shows that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders would hold a commanding 57 percent to 29 percent lead over Hillary Clinton if the race were held tomorrow. Only 14 percent — or one in every seven West Virginia voters — were undecided as to whom they would choose in the Democratic primary.

While the show’s host expressed surprise at the lopsided results against Hillary Clinton, the poll’s director was not. Rex Repass, CEO of REPASS Research and director of the MetroNews West Virginia Poll, explained the results — including those for Republican candidates — were in line with previous polling the company had conducted on the 2016 Presidential race.

“I believe – from the other polling that we’ve done – you see quite a bit of a populist streak, particularly in the Democratic party for a candidate that speaks to issues like economic concerns, Wall Street, one percenters and so on. I believe there’s also Clinton fatigue. Because of those reasons, I wasn’t real surprised. This mirrors some of the national polling in some of the states like New Hampshire for Bernie Sanders.”

While Clinton fatigue cannot be ignored, the results are indicative of a working class pulling its support from Hillary Clinton to back Bernie Sanders. Exit polls from the first primary contest confirmed this, as Hillary Clinton lost by one percentage point in Iowa. In New Hampshire — where Bernie Sanders won in a near-by state to his home — Hillary Clinton lost those same voters by an overwhelming 38 percentage points, The Washington Post reported.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch highlighted the economic woes the Mountain State faces. Moody’s Analytics calls West Virginia one of four states in recession, adding that all four states that are in decline have major energy industries losing jobs. Repass agreed with the assessment, adding that a weakened economy hurt former frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

“The economy and frustration with the status quo in Washington is helping these non-traditional candidates nationally and in West Virginia.”

Although the state only delivers five electoral votes for the eventual presidential nominee, West Virginia has turned red over the past four Presidential elections. Previously, the state was a firm Democratic stomping ground, as only Republican Ronald Reagen in his 1988 re-election bid had won the state’s general election. Both Democrats could need West Virginia to secure a general election victory.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton owned West Virginia, winning the state by a 42-percent margin. Those numbers may have been skewed because of President Barack Obama’s race, The Washington Post suggested. A full 22 percent of voters that cast a ballot in the 2008 Democratic primary claimed race was a factor in their decisions. Among those identifying race as a deciding factor, nearly three out of four individuals voted for Hillary Clinton.

West Virginia Hillary Clinton
Hillary will need to channel the message that husband and former President Bill Clinton used to win working class voters in West Virginia. [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]
For Hillary Clinton to secure the 2016 Democratic nomination, the former Senator will need to reconnect with hard-working citizens that supported her husband in his two successful elections in the 1990s. Then, as The New Yorker explained, an aspiration to climb out of the economic status quo was created by Hillary and Bill. During this election, those rallying cries are falling on deaf ears.

“Compare Sanders’s winning speeches to Clinton’s losing ones this week, and it appears that middle-class voters are simply more willing to see themselves as stuck in place than they have been for a very long time. That aspirational [sic] vein is hard to find.”

On the Republican side, Donald Trump owns a 2-to-1 lead over his nearest competitor, Senator Ted Cruz, in the West Virginia poll. Trump claimed 40 percent of the GOP vote, besting Cruz by 20 percentage points. Calling the Republican race “Trump’s to lose,” Rex Repass surmised that only being out of the race by the May primary would keep Donald from winning in West Virginia.

“You look at Trump. Trump has support among non-traditional Republicans, among Democrats, and among independents, really… It’s difficult to explain, but there’s a lot of anger and angst, and he is the beneficiary of that.”

The MetroNews West Virginia Poll was conducted between February 11 – 16 among 411 registered, likely voters using questions to identify party affiliation and past voting habits. REPASS Research is a data-collecting company headquartered in nearby Cincinnati, Ohio, with offices in West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Do you think the West Virginia poll forecasts a grim outlook for Hillary Clinton to become the 2016 Democratic nominee? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]