THIS ROCK-HARD, remote mountain redoubt, where generations of the brawny and the brave stripped the forests for timber and traveled deep into mines for coal, used to constitute an impregnable Democratic fortress. For 14 of the 17 elections since Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed his New Deal, Democrats won easy victories in presidential elections in this state.
But with the new century, a new political reality has unfolded here, perhaps best viewed as a tale of two governors from faraway Massachusetts.
Michael S. Dukakis, the Democrats’ 1988 presidential nominee, won the state by 5 percentage points. Mitt Romney — the Republicans’ presidential nominee 24 years later and a figure with no plausible personal or cultural affinity with voters here — won all 55 counties in the state in the last election, taking West Virginia’s five electoral votes by a landslide 27 percentage points.
– Boston Globe