May 13, 2008

The West Virginia Numbers


(click for full size)

Heading into today’s primary in W. Virginia, the focus in the ‘sphere has been on Appalachia, race and demographics.  Steve Benen’s post (Why will Obama get trounced in West Virginia and Kentucky?) does a nice round-up looking at poll numbers, as well as leading pieces by George Packer, the LAT and Jerome Singer.  And then, there’s this extended geographic analysis by DHinMI at DKos which argues that Obama’s so-called problem with white working class voters might have a lot more to do with that swath of America known as Appalachia.

With this kind of focus, it’s hard not to look at the newswire images of Clinton and Obama in West Virginia and not to attend to the racial breakdown. 

In a particularly symbolic visual, NYT photographer Stephen Crowley captured this shot at Tudor’s Biscuit World in Charleston.  In the photo, Hillary Clinton heads into the restaurant for a photo op with Evelyn Keener, 91, who is waiting with a copy of Clinton’s autobiography.  At the same time, the picture captures a black couple at the next table, the woman wearing an Obama 08 jersey.  (Afterward, as you can see in this AP shot by Elise Amendola, Clinton has a word with, and also a gander at the presidential endorsement of an embarrassed Doris Smith who said she had no idea Clinton was going to be there.)

Still, I found the image above (from yesterday’s Clinton rally at a gym at the Fairmont, West Virginia airport) that much more effective in speaking to the demographics.  In this case, it was not just the crowd ratio I found compelling, or the social spacing, or the body language of the Obama supporters, but the element of the numbered bleacher seats. 

(image: unattributed.  Getty Images by AFP. Fairmont, West Virginia. May 12, 2008. via

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Michael Shaw
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