Republicans in WV Poised to Make More Gains in 2016

It’s less than a year until the 2016 elections, and Republicans in West Virginia are in a great position to improve on the gains they’ve already made in 2014.

If voter registration is any indication, Democrats in West Virginia are in real trouble. In April 2014 we compared Democrat voter registration over a five-year period. During that five-year snapshot the state Democrat Party saw a 7.9 percent drop in registration.

The drop has only increased. Fast forward to October 2015 and a look at that five-year time frame. Between April 2010 and April 2015 Democrat Party registration in West Virginia dropped by 11.2 percent.

Overall voter registration in the state fell by .4 percent in those five years. Republicans gained registration by 1.3 percent. The liberal/progress Mountain Party had a 49.8 percent, increasing from 1,120 to 1,678 members. The biggest gain in voters came from those either registered as another party or no party, increasing by 30.5 percent.

Democrats will point to their 582,915 registered voters and say the numbers mean something. Republicans only have 354,765 registered voters as of October. Democrats also outnumbered Republicans 2-1 in 2014, but Republicans saw a clean sweep of the House of Delegates, and they had a tied state Senate until a conservative Democrat switched parties and gave Republicans control of the Senate.

Going into 2016, Republicans will have an even stronger ticket. They will likely retain control of the House and are recruiting a great group of candidates to run for Senate. Several Democrat state Senators have already chosen to retire instead of run for re-election. Senate President Bill Cole, the architect of the Senate victories in 2014, is running for Governor. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, leading the fight against EPA overreach, is a shoe-in for re-election. Other executive branch offices are seeing great Republicans run, including Delegate J.B. McCuskey for State Auditor and Senator Kent Leonhardt for Agriculture Commissioner.

All these races are helped by a shrinking state Democrat Party, which is seeing its more conservative voters rebel or even switch registrations. More liberal/progressive Democrats, unhappy with a party trying to decide whether to embrace the national Democrat platform or pander to the original conservative base, are also leaving the party for more left-wing alternatives. A state that went in string for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008 will not make the same mistake, let alone choosing the democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders. A strong Republican at the top of ticket means trickle-down benefits for candidates downstream.