Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has a higher level of support in West Virginia than in any other state, according to a recent New York Times analysis of data provided by Civis Analytics, a Chicago-based firm.
Trump’s support ranges from a high of 45 percent in West Virginia’s 1st Congressional District (a region that stretches from Parkersburg to Morgantown and Wheeling) to 41 percent in the 2nd Congressional District (the Kanawha Valley to the Eastern Panhandle) to 36 percent in the 3rd District (Southern West Virginia), the research shows.
West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas said it’s no surprise that West Virginians would favor Trump.
“He’s not a traditional politician,” Lucas said. “West Virginia has been harmed greatly by Barack Obama and politics as usual in West Virginia. Mr. Trump certainly offers a different perspective, and it’s resonating well.”
The data reflect that Trump’s strongest support comes from states like West Virginia, where registered Democrats identify themselves as Republican “leaners” — those likely to vote for GOP candidates. Those same states typically vote for Republicans in presidential elections.
State Democratic Party Vice Chairman Chris Regan said conservative West Virginians have embraced Trump’s message because the GOP establishment offers them nothing.
“Trump’s popularity is a direct reaction to the bill of goods Republican politicians have been selling their voters in West Virginia,” Regan said. “Trump shows that conservative voters are wising up to the establishment GOP’s game.”
Civis Analytics, a Democratic data science firm, based its research on interviews with more than 11,000 respondents who identify themselves as Republicans or likely voters who lean Republican. The firm is headed by Dan Wagner, who worked as Obama’s chief analytics officer during the 2012 campaign.
Trump’s best state was West Virginia, followed by New York. Trump also had strong support in other states in the Appalachian region and among Gulf Coast states, the Times reported.
Trump’s weakest support came from Utah, a state dominated by traditional Republicans.
Lucas said Trump’s campaign already is recruiting Republican convention delegates in West Virginia.
“A lot of pundits accuse Trump of not having a strong grassroots campaign and ground game,” Lucas said. “However, it appears he’s developing that in West Virginia. He does have a grassroots presence here, despite the fact our primary is so late.”
West Virginia’s primary is May 10.
“After results roll in from early primary states, I’ll be curious to see if that [Trump support] changes here,” Lucas said.
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