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Storm may affect voting

November 6, 2012
By Mike Myer , The Inter-Mountain

Republicans seem more energetic and conscientious than Democrats in West Virginia - and much more than independents. That could well have an effect on how candidates for state offices fare in the general election today.

Almost beyond any doubt, massive snowfalls in several counties during the past week will have an effect, too. It's entirely possible that will benefit GOP candidates.

Like people in many other states, West Virginians have been beating paths to polling places to take advantage of early voting or the absentee ballot process. By Friday afternoon, about one-tenth of the state's registered voters had cast ballots by one of the two processes (111,914 early voting and 10,990 absentee ballots).

Slightly more than 51 percent of early voters were Democrats. That matches up nicely with the fact that about 51 percent of voters are registered with that party.

But 35.3 percent of early voters were Republicans - a substantially higher proportion than the 29 percent who are registered under the GOP banner.

The numbers are similar for those who plan to vote by absentee ballot, though with a couple of extra percentage points for Republicans and a couple less for Democrats.

Clearly, registered Republicans are more concerned about making their voices count in this election. That isn't terribly surprising; many of them can't wait to vote for GOP candidate Mitt Romney, because of President Barack Obama's war on coal. And some Democrats seem to have decided to sit this election out, for the same reason.

If the pattern holds today, during regular voting, Republican candidates for state offices could benefit.

Intelligent candidates are attempting to tap the increasing number of voters who choose not to register as either Democrats or Republicans. But that group of West Virginians doesn't seem especially energized this time around. About 20 percent of registered voters are classified as "no party," "other," or Mountain Party. But only about 13.4 percent of early voters and 13.5 percent of absentee ballot users are in those categories.

What about the storm that dumped as much as three feet of snow on some areas of West Virginia?

Consider this: Most of the counties hit hard are heavily Democratic. Voter registration in Randolph and Nicholas counties is about 2.5 to 1 in favor of Democrats, for example. In Webster County, it's much worse, at about six to one.

Early voting has already ended - but some West Virginians who may have planned a few days ago to take advantage of the process weren't able to do so. It's tough to get to the county courthouse to vote when your roads are impassable.

On Friday afternoon, large areas of the state remained, in effect, cut off. About 20 percent of the residents of Randolph County remained isolated by the snow. They weren't able to vote early - and may not make it to the polls today.

Even if the roads are open, many West Virginians have concerns more immediate than who wins the election. About 95,000 homes and businesses remained without electric power Friday afternoon.

Again, the areas hit hardest appeared to contain proportionately more Democrats than Republicans.

So, combine what appears to be a trend of energetic Republican voters and lethargic Democrats with the weather factor, and it appears that today's election may be a good one for West Virginia Republicans. We'll see.

There is good news for Democrats who are determined not to vote for Obama but who can't bring themselves to support a Republican for president, however. There are alternatives. In addition to the three other candidates whose names are on the ballot, some officially recognized write-in candidates are available.

Among them are actress Roseanne Barr and, of course, Santa Claus. I'm not making this up.


Remember what first lady Michelle Obama said in 2008, when it seemed her husband might become president? "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback." It wasn't a slip of the tongue; she said nearly the same thing at another campaign stop.

Think about what that said about how Mrs. Obama views her fellow Americans.

The same year, then-candidate Barack Obama, speaking of small-town Americans upset about the economy, had this explanation: "So it's not surprising, then, that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Fast forward to Sept. 12, 2012, when President Barack Obama discussed the deaths of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It happened because a crowd of Libyans was infuriated by a U.S.-made video that reflected badly on the Prophet Muhammad, Obama said.

Even then it was clear to the president of Libya the attack was staged by Islamic terrorists linked to al-Qaida. Yet it was Obama's knee-jerk reaction to, in effect, blame America.

Also in September, a mob attacked the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Obama's Department of State issued a statement that it "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims ... We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."

In other words, in the administration's opinion, freedom of speech for Americans has limits far below what most of us accept.

It's part of a pattern not just of apologizing for the United States and Americans, but of outright criticism of us. Remember the 2009 press conference in London?

"I would like to think that with my election and the early decisions that we've made, that you're starting to see some restoration of America's standing in the world," Obama said.

None of this is surprising, given Obama's friendships and those who mentored him earlier in life.

Remember, the pastor to whom he looked up and listened for many years, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, had this to say about the U.S.: "No, no, no, not God Bless America. God damn America ..."

Then there's Bill Ayers, one of the co-founders of the domestic terrorist group, the Weather Underground, in 1969. For a time, both he and the Obamas lived in Chicago, where they were friends. Ayers even held a political fundraiser at his home for Obama. It didn't seem to bother the future president that Ayers has yet to repent of the Weather Underground's activities, in which several innocent victims were murdered.

Go ahead. Accuse me of slinging mud at the president of the United States. But I didn't make up the above quotations. I didn't invent the associations with people such as Ayers and Wright.

Clearly, President and Mrs. Obama have strong, abiding reservations not just about the U.S. government's policies, but also about we Americans as a nation.

How is it possible to lead a people for whom you have so little respect?

Myer can be reached at:



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