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Webb won Buchanan County, in Western VA where VA meets the WV/KY border, 55/44. He won Dickenson county next door by the same margin. Russell County ... the center of Western VA, and the only county in its neighourhood that does not have a state border, he won by 51/49.
Now, to the south and west of there along the KY border, he lost Wise and Lee by 46/53 and 44/55, and Scott and Washington Counties on the Carolina border he lose by double digit margins, the high 30's to the low 60's.
So the Republicans carried a positive margin out of extreme western Virgina.
However, where the post-Civil Rights Act Republican Party would hope to gain a quite substantial positive margin of votes to offset a healthy Democratic majority in Northeast VA ... Webb basically fought them to a near draw. The Republicans still got a positive margin from western VA altogether ... but a single-digit margin from the region as a whole, rather than the double digit margin that they would ordinarily expect.
And unlike Parliamentary elections, in US Presidential politics it does not matter where a vote swings in a swing state. Bringing out 1,000 new Democratic votes, or switching 500 former Republican votes in a swing county and "winning" the county has exactly the same impact as adding 1,000 votes new Democratic votes or swinging 500 former Republican votes in a heavily Republican county.
And there are a lot more Republican votes available to swing in the heavily Republican areas.
The Republicans understand this arithmetic ... after all, in the US, the game of divide and conquer in the middle of the other party's coalition base normally goes under the heading of "Reagan Democrats". They know that if Obama holds together the Kerry voters, swings not very many "moderate ex-Republicans", aka Republican leaning Independents, and makes a "divide and conquer" strike into any one of the main elements of the radical reactionary electoral base, the game is over except for the shouting.
Appalachia ... the "10th Nation of North America" that is so often overlooked that even those looking for the cultural nations of North America confused if for a border region between the more celebrated cultural regions that is borders on ...
... for quite a lot of reasons is a very plausible candidate for that divide-and-conquer strike into the Republican base.
I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
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