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WV’s Blue Geysers Not Strong Enough to Take Out Joe Manchin

The progressive political action committee No Excuses has started a campaign to try to oust conservative U.S. Senate Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona.

Politico reports the PAC is “starting to search for candidates to challenge incumbent Democrats they say are standing in the way of ambitious action to end the coronavirus pandemic and revive the economy.

In an email to supporters, the PAC says, “Help us find the next AOC to replace Manchin and Sinema.”

I will leave it up to the political wags in the Grand Canyon State to weigh in on the chances of a successful primary against Sinema, but it is a safe bet in the Mountain State that Manchin cannot be taken out in a Democratic Primary when he is up for re-election in 2024.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents the 14th Congressional District of New York, an urban district of New York City where 40 percent of the residents are immigrants. The district voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden over Donald Trump, some areas by as much as 70 or 80 points.

That is a long way from West Virginia, but it did get me thinking about where progressive Democrats are in our state based on the last election.

The New York Times put together an interactive map with 2020 presidential election results in 1,922 of the 3,143 counties in 42 states. It includes a specific breakdown of counties and even voting precincts in West Virginia.

Biden’s limited success in West Virginia was almost exclusively in the state’s few urban areas.

He dominated Charleston’s Westside, where he received 85 percent of the vote in one precinct. Biden beat Trump by 64 points in Institute and 58 points in the neighborhoods around the State Capitol.

Biden’s best performance in Huntington was the district between Hal Greer Boulevard and 20th street where nine out of ten voters supported him.

The map shows Beckley’s voting precincts were divided between Trump and Biden, although Biden did get 93 percent of the vote in one precinct.  Biden won by 67 points in a downtown Bluefield precinct.

One exception to the urban trend was in southern West Virginia.  Trump won McDowell County, But Biden got more votes in a couple of precincts along U.S. Route 52 between Welch and the Mercer County line.

Wood County is Republican and there Biden only managed to win the downtown by a couple of votes. In the Northern Panhandle, Biden carried downtown Wheeling and one precinct in Edgewood.

Biden had some success in the I-79 Corridor in North Central West Virginia.  He carried Morgantown, winning eight of the city’s precincts by an average of 38 points.  He also picked up a few precincts in Fairmont.

Biden split with Trump in Martinsburg.  In Shepherdstown, Biden outdistanced Trump 87 percent to 11 percent.  Biden got 77 percent of the vote in Harpers Ferry, but he won just narrowly in Charles Town.  Biden also won two precincts in Elkins and one in the Canaan Valley of Tucker County.

Even though Biden outperformed Trump significantly in many of the urban areas of the state, Trump still won statewide by 39 points.  The New York Times map shows where the progressives are in West Virginia—they are the sources of the “blue geysers” in an otherwise red state.

However, the map also shows there simply are not enough of them to make a significant political impact statewide, and clearly not enough for a progressive Democrat to take out Joe Manchin.

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