Don’t Misread W.Va. Election

While many national Republican leaders are scratching their heads about what to do in response to their party’s loss in the presidential election, just the opposite is occurring in Charleston. There, recriminations are flying about why Democrats lost so many seats in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

When the House convenes in January, Republicans will hold 44 of its 100 seats. Not since the Great Depression has the GOP been in a similar position.

Liberal Democrats have good reason for worry. A substantial number of their party’s House members are moderates or conservatives who may well vote with the Republicans on some important issues.

Speaker of the House Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, has been criticized by some in his party. Thompson has been accused of not being open enough to legislation that could create new jobs in West Virginia.

Incredibly, some Democrat leaders have said the reason their party lost so many House seats is failure of some leading Mountain State Democrats to support President Barack Obama.

That is as complete a misreading of the electorate as we have heard in some time.

The theory is that had party leaders been more supportive of Obama, it would have energized rank-and-file Democrats to get them to the polls last week. Once there, they could have prevented some House of Delegates losses by Democrat candidates, proponents of that explanation believe.

Nonsense. If anything, stronger support of Obama would have cost many incumbent Democrat office holders their jobs.

West Virginia voters repudiated Obama’s policies with stunning uniformity last week. Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney won in every one of the state’s 55 counties.

Republican candidates for the House won not because the Democrats lacked a reputation for liberalism, but because many Mountain State voters want a more business-friendly Legislature.

If Democrat leaders fail to understand that, they will be setting their party up for even more losses in future elections.