Mitt Romney carried Wetzel County with a little over 59 percent of the vote, a 21.5 margin of victory over Obama. Across the river in Monroe County, the Romney, Ryan ticket "only" triumphed by roughly seven percent of the vote.
The question is why the Obama ticket ran some 14 percent better in Monroe County, or, to put it another way, does the Ohio River make that much difference?
The demographic of the two is close to identical. There were no Republicans at the local level in either county. Both would seem to be equally susceptible to the "War on Coal" arguments.
They receive their news from the same sources. The Odgen newspapers (Wheeling and Martins Ferry, Ohio; the same television stations (Channel 7 in Wheeling and 9 in Steubenville); and of course WWVA Radio. They share the same primary employees: The Ormet Corporation, aluminum mill at Hannibal, Ohio; and Wal-Mart in New Martinsville. (Wal-Mart is West Virginia's largest employer.)
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011, Wetzel County was 98.8 percent white, while Monroe County was 98 percent. Home ownership in Monroe County was 79 percent and 80 percent in Wetzel County.
Persons with a bachelor's degree (or higher) 25 years+ constitute 9.2 percent of the populace of Monroe County, while Wetzel Countians in the same slice of demographic are 12.6 percent.
Of course, Ohio was (as we are told by the bloviators in print and over the air ways) "ground zero" where the two campaigns emulated the trench warfare of WWI, while West Virginia was to the Obama-mites like the illegitimate son at the reading of the will.
That's one possible explanation. Another is that despite the 3.4 percent edge in college degrees, we are just not as smart as those on the west side of the Ohio River. I, of course, prefer the former explanation but I support the latter might be true. When I was conducting my field research at a bar in Clarington, the mother of a Monroe County official with deep roots in the UMW of A told me "We're not glum nuts like you people are."
What was it Willie Stargill said about opinions?
H. John Rogers