CHARLESTON, W.Va. (BP)–Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama handily among the party’s weekly churchgoers in West Virginia May 13 according to exit polls, but also won in most other categories — including among non-churchgoers — as she enjoyed a blowout victory in the state.
Clinton carried the state, 67-26 percent, and earned an estimated 20 delegates to Obama’s eight, but she still faces long odds to get the nomination. Kentucky and Oregon hold primaries next Tuesday, with Clinton the favorite in the former, Obama the latter.
Obama already is focusing on the general election and didn’t campaign in West Virginia as much as Clinton did, although it likely wouldn’t have mattered.
Clinton won among those who attend church more than weekly (67-23 percent), weekly (63-28 percent) and even among those who never attend church (67-30 percent). Those who attend church weekly and more than weekly made up 43 percent of Democratic voters. She also won 68 of the Protestant vote and 57 percent of the Catholic vote.
She was conciliatory in her victory speech, making it clear she would rally behind Obama if he is the nominee.
“[O]ur nominee will be stronger for having campaigned long and hard, building enthusiasm and excitement, hearing your stories and answering your questions,” she said. “And I will work my heart out for the nominee of the Democratic Party to make sure we have a Democratic president.”
But she also asserted that “no Democrat has won the White House since 1916 without winning West Virginia.”
“The bottom line is this: The White House is won in the swing states and I am winning the swing states,” she said.
If the November race for the White House comes down to West Virginia, Democrats could be in trouble. Consider that in the state:
— 48 percent of Democratic voters said if Obama is the nominee, they either wouldn’t vote (19 percent) or would vote for presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain (29 percent).
— 55 percent said they don’t believe Obama is honest and trustworthy. Thirty-four percent said the same about Clinton.
— 51 percent said they believe Obama shares “a lot” or some of the views of his longtime, controversial pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Among that group, 81 percent voted for Clinton.
— 46 percent said they would be satisfied only if Clinton wins.
— 56 percent said Obama does not share their values, compared to 29 percent who said the same about Clinton.
Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor for Baptist Press.