Obama’s “Ohio River Valley” Problem

If you have given any attention to the punditry regarding the Democratic primary contests you have probably heard about Obama's so-called "Appalachia Problem."  The premise is simple: Obama does not do well with hill people, particularly in places like West Virginia and Kentucky.  As a result dire election results from such areas can be safely discounted.  Move along…nothing to see here.

The (mostly) unspoken subtext is less subtle.  "These are nothing but toothless, racist hillbillies.  Can't you hear the banjos?"

The "Appalachia" meme is being pushed by those who want to hide the extent of Obama's difficulties in rural America.  By calling it an "Appalachia problem" you can attempt to inoculate against the idea of a more general rural problem for Obama.  If one, for example, were to discover an "Ohio River Valley Problem," well it becomes harder to demonize such voters.  Whatever images come to mind when you think of the Ohio River Valley and its people, it isn't scary inbred white trash.  In fact, most rural Americans would think of these folks as being like themselves in most important ways. 

When you look at primary results across that part of the country it becomes clear that Obama does indeed have an "Ohio River Valley" problem.

Here are the results by county in those places bordering the Ohio river:

Ohio

Clinton win by 30% or more: Brown, Adams, Scioto, Lawrence, Gallia, Meigs, Washington, Monroe, Belmont, Jefferson, Carroll, Harrison, Guernsey, Noble, Morgan, Vinton, Jackson, Pike, Highland

Clinton win by 10%-29%: Clinton, Warren, Butler

Clinton win by less that 10%: Athens

Obama win: Hamilton

Indiana

Clinton win by 30% or more: Dearborn, Ohio, Switzerland, Franklin, Ripley, Jefferson, Jennings, Clark, Scott, Floyd, Harrison, Washington, Crawford, Perry, Orange, Pike, Gibson

Clinton win by 10%-29%: Spencer, Dubois, Warrick, Posey

Clinton win by less than 10%: Vanderburgh

Obama win: None

Illinois

Clinton win by 10%-29%: Gallatin, Hardin, Pope, Johnson, Union

Clinton win by less than 10% White, Hamilton, Saline, Massac

Obama win: Alexander, Pulaski

Kentucky

Clinton win by 30% or more: Carlisle, Graves, Ballard, McCracken, Marshall, Livingston, Crittenden, Lyon, Caldwell, Webster, Union, Henderson, McLean, Daviess, Ohio, Hancock, Breckinridge, Grayson, Meade, Bullitt, Spencer, Henry, Trimble, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen, Grant, Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Pendleton, Bracken, Robertson, Mason, Fleming, Lewis, Rowan, Greenup, Boyd, Carter, Lawrence

Clinton win by 10%-29%: Hardin, Shelby, Oldham

Obama win: Jefferson

West Virginia

Clinton win by 30% or more: Wayne, Mingo, Lincoln, Cabell, Putnam, Mason, Jackson, Roane, Wirt, Wood, Ritchie, Pleasants, Tyler, Doddridge, Wetzel, Marshall, Brooke, Hancock, Marion, Harrison

Clinton win by 10%-29%: Kanawha, Ohio, Monongalia

Obama win: None

Pennsylvania

Clinton win by 30% or more: Greene, Washington, Beaver, Lawrence, Armstrong, Westmoreland

Clinton win by 10%-29%: Butler

Clinton win by  less than 10%: Allegheny

Obama win: None

So, of the 133 counties in the Ohio River Valley, Obama managed to win 4 (or 3%.)  Obama lost 103 (77%) counties by more than 30 percentage points.  Obama lost by at least 10 percentage points in 122 (92%) counties.

So the next time someone tries to sell you on the "Appalachia" meme, feel free to laugh in their face.

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6 Responses to Obama’s “Ohio River Valley” Problem

  1. That’s a fascinating observation. Any data on how McCain fares vs. the Prophet Barack in those same areas, and how that might affect the electoral vote?

  2. Rich Horton says:

    "Any data on how McCain fares vs. the Prophet Barack in those same areas"
    I dont know of any polling that breaks down by county.  But using 2004 general election results for these areas you get the following breakdown:
    PA: Kerry won this area by a slim margin.
    IN: Bush fairly solid.  (Not the main area of his Indiana strength.)
    OH: Slight edge to Bush.
    KY:  Bush fairly solid.  (Kerry’s main strength was IN Appalachia.)
    IL: Slight Bush edge.
    WV: Bush VERY slight edge.
    If Obama’s lack of appeal to rural voters continues, I could see Ohio move out of the "battleground" category, and I could see McCain win KY, IN, and WV without spending a dime there, freeing up said money for other places.  (It wont matter in IL of course.)

  3. Sylvia says:

    Those aren’t the only states with hill people…

  4. kidrob says:

    let them eat cake

  5. Bob Agard says:

    Excellent analysis. I have linked to you.

  6. Mwalimu Daidi says:

    This embittered G*d-and-guns-clinging typical white Yank remembers the 1980s and the so-called "gender gap". Polling data of the time showed that men and women did not vote in equal percentages for the Republican and Democrat Parties.

    The MSM and the trendy "experts" solemnly assured us that the "gender gap" was exclusively a GOP problem, and could only be solved if Republicans confessed its sins and adopted the radical feminists’ agenda chapter and verse. And even then Republicans would always have a stain upon their souls because of their previous infidel ways.

    Now, a quarter of a century later, the MSM is dismissing the Messiah’s problems with certain voters by patching up the “gender gap” argument. The script is pretty much the same except for some light editing (Remember how the pants-down Presidency of Hilly the Hun’s husband made misogyny cool again? Not only is it hip to be a Male Chauvinist Pig – for Democrats it is practically a requirement to hold public office.). Voters who do not cotton to He Whose Middle Name Must Not Be Mentioned are the ones with the problems  that need to be dealt with – not Him.

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