Friends - Some people are supporting Barack Obama in the election because they want to prove that racism is no longer a big factor in American society. The following article from the Financial Times seems to confirm just the opposite. Obama's pending nomination is bringing out the racism in America! The piece speaks volumes about West Virginia, and makes me wonder if Hillary Clinton's expected huge primary election victory there will really be much of a victory after all. The article shows us all just how redneck that state still is, making the crackers from the film "Deliverance" seem almost like effete snobs!
Like most people in Mingo County, West Virginia, Leonard Simpson is a lifelong Democrat. But given a choice between Barack Obama and John McCain in November, the 67-year-old retired coalminer would vote Republican.
“I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist,” said Mr Simpson, drawing on a cigarette outside the fire station in Williamson, a coalmining town of 3,400 people surrounded by lush wooded hillsides.
Mr Simpson’s remarks help explain why Mr Obama is trailing Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, by 40 percentage points ahead of Tuesday’s primary election in the heavily white and rural state, according to recent opinion polls.
A landslide victory for Mrs Clinton in West Virginia will do little to improve her fading hopes of winning the Democratic nomination, because Mr Obama has an almost insurmountable lead in the overall race.
But Tuesday’s contest is likely to reinforce Mrs Clinton’s argument that she would be the stronger opponent for Mr McCain in November, and raise fresh doubts about whether the US is ready to elect its first black president.
Occupying a swathe of the Appalachian Mountains on the threshold between the Bible Belt and the Rust Belt, West Virginia is a swing state that voted twice for George W. Bush but backed Democrats in six of the eight prior presidential elections.
No Democrat has been elected to the White House without carrying West Virginia since 1916, yet Mr Obama appears to have little chance of winning there in November. Recent opinion polls indicate that Mrs Clinton would narrowly beat Mr McCain in the state but Mr Obama would lose by nearly 20 percentage points.
West Virginia is hostile territory for Mr Obama because it has few of the African-Americans and affluent, college-educated whites who provide his strongest support. The state has the lowest college graduation rate in the US, the second lowest median household income, and one of the highest proportions of white residents, at 96 per cent.
A visit to Mingo County, a Democratic stronghold in the heart of the Appalachian coalfields, reveals the scale of Mr Obama’s challenge – not only in West Virginia but in white, working-class communities across the US. With a gun shop on its main street and churches dotted throughout the town, Williamson is the kind of community evoked by Mr Obama’s controversial comments last month about “bitter” small-town voters who “cling to guns or religion”.
“If he is the nominee, the Democrats have no chance of winning West Virginia,” said Missy Endicott, a 40- year-old school administrator. “He doesn’t understand ordinary Americans.”