Since Obama became the clear favorite to win the Democratic nomination, I've been pondering whether he has any real shot, if he does become the nominee, to win West Virginia in the general election, and have come to the conclusion that he does not. This isn't because of Obama's liberal voting record; I think the right sort of liberal -- one who could shift attention from his specific stances on gun control, gay marriage, and regulation of the coal industry to a message of economic populism --could put West Virginia in play. Rather, and there's no gentle or positive way to put this, I believe a much higher proportion of West Virginia voters than voters nationally simply will not, even in 2008, vote for a black presidential candidate -- Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal -- and that block of voters would rule out an Obama win in this state under any realistic scenario for the development of the presidential race this fall.
For any who believe that West Virginia voters are more enlightened than I do, I'd love to see some arguments to that effect in the comments (and indeed, would love to be convinced by such arguments). I've also set up a poll, in the sidebar, to see how many readers agree and disagree with my assessment.