West Virginia has had the oddest political culture for decades.
At the Presidential level, it has trended reliably Republican since 2000. Prior to the election of Congresswoman (now Senator-elect) Shelley Moore Capito in 2000, voters rarely sent a Republican to Congress for longer than a single term. Moore Capito’s father, Arch Moore, was the only Republican Congressman to serve more than one consecutive term between 1950 and 2000. And the last time a Republican Senator served a full term was in the 1940s.
West Virginia’s political culture is heavily influenced by labor unions — traditionally a fundraising and organizing arm of the Democrats — but their reliance on coal as in industry (it generates more than $3 billion annually) has strained the relationship between average West Virginians the increasingly anti-fossil fuel Democratic Party.
As in many Southern communities, the mentality really seems to be this (as a Southerner, I understand it):
My grandaddy was a Democrat. My daddy was a Democrat. I’m a Democrat.
But Election Night 2014 brought big changes to West Virginia’s state-level political landscape; changes the Washington Post called “unexpected.”
Senator-elect Moore Capito won every single county with a whopping 62.1% of the vote state-wide, and her coattails were pretty long. For the first time since the 1920s, Republicans will hold every seat in the House of Representatives, leaving just one Senate seat (Joe Manchin, a popular former governor) left for Democrats.