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HomeNewsElectionsWest Virginia Primary: Record Turnout Reported in the Mountain State

West Virginia Primary: Record Turnout Reported in the Mountain State

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Trump-Rally-Charleston-WV-Coal-Miners

People show their support as Donald Trump speaks in Charleston, West Virginia, on May 5, 2016. (Photo: Chris Tilley/Reuters)

West Virginia primary voters are heading to the polls today and early estimates show a record turnout in both the early vote and Election Day voting. The Charleston County Clerk’s Office said they had already far surpassed the previous record on Monday for the early vote and traffic at polling stations has been heavy and steady.

According to officials, there have been 100,962 early voting ballots received and 5,252 absentee ballots for a total 106,214 early votes. In 2008, they had less than 66,000 early ballots. Registration by party, officials say, can confuse just who exactly is heading to the polls. Traditional registered Democrats are flocking to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who won endorsements from coal mining groups that have back Democrats in all of the last six elections.

“People just like his no-nonsense, take-the-gloves-off attitude,” Chris Hamilton, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association said. Mr. Hamilton’s group represents 95% of the state’s coal production. The trade group officially endorsed Mr. Trump earlier this week and Mr. Hamilton handed him a white miners’s helmet onstage at the Charleston rally on May 5 (see below).

Mr. Trump is running essentially unopposed for the first time this cycle in the West Virginia Primary. The PPD average of polls shows Mr. Trump had an enormous lead even before his two rivals dropped out after Indiana.

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump models a coal miner’s helmet during his rally in Charleston, West Virginia, on May 5, 2016. (Photo: Mark Lyons/Getty Images)

On the Democratic side, there are 29 delegates are up for grabs in the populous state. Based upon the PPD average of polls, Vermont socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders is expected to defeat frontrunner and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Sanders has clobbered his rival over anti-coal remarks she made and called for investing $41 billion to rebuild the coal-mining communities and create clean energy jobs.

“While I strongly believe we need to combat climate change … let me be clear: We cannot abandon communities that have been dependent on coal and other fossil fuels,” Sen. Sanders said at a May 4 rally.

Mrs. Clinton, who won the state with more than 60% of the vote in 2008 against then-Sen. Barack Obama, has been trying to walk back comments the New York senator made on CNN in March.

“We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” Mrs. Clinton said.

The former secretary of state held a series of events last week vowing to develop an economic support package for struggling residents. She secured the endorsements of fellow Democrats in the state, including West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. However, Mrs. Clinton was approached by a voter about the comment and claimed it was taken out of context. Of course, it wasn’t and the remark hasn’t gone over well.

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Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders holds a rally in Morgantown, West Virginia on May 5, 2016 at the Waterfront Place Hotel. (Photo: Video/PPD)

In 2015, coal production in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in nearly three decades, or less than 900 million tons. Dozens of U.S. mining companies, to include Peabody Energy Corp. (OTCMKTS:BTUUQ) and Arch Coal Inc. (OTCMKTS:ACIIQ), filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in recent months as their earnings declined and debt loads soared.

What’s plaguing the coal mining industry?

First, power plant operators are switching from coal and burning cheap, federal government-pushed natural gas to power their electricity. Second, China’s slowing economy has resulted in a lower global demand for metallurgical coal used in steelmaking, which has weighed down prices significantly considering prior trade deals allowed further manipulation.

Last but not least, strict federal clean air and water regulations are making it too expensive to operate coal plants, especially in older facilities. It’s the fulfillment of a campaign promise Obama made in 2008, which Mrs. Clinton promised to continue going forward.

As a result, six of the state’s southern counties have lost as much as a third of their employment in the last few years, and poverty numbers are now at record highs. West Virginia now has the highest per capita food stamp recipient number and by just talking to residents for a few minutes it becomes clear they don’t like it. They’d rather work.

Written by

Led by R. D. Baris, the People's Pundit, the PPD Elections Staff conducts polling and covers news about latest polls, election results and election data.

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