By Tamara Pettit
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS……A LOOK BACK AT HOW HANCOCK COUNTY AND WEST VIRGINIA VOTED
Early voting has ended and those who have not voted in the 2020 General Election will head to the polls Tuesday. This Presidential Election has been the most heated in decades and unlike Ohio (how Ohio goes, so goes the nation) West Virginia has gone with winners and we’ve gone with losers. Hancock County has followed West Virginia’s lead in most Presidential races, but broke ranks to support Walter Mondale against Ronald Reagan and Adlai Stevenson against Dwight Eisenhower. On Sunday, Nov. 1, the only certainty appears to be that the Steelers are victorious and we’ve sighted our first snowflakes in Hancock County so we’re taking a look back at how the State and Hancock County voted from 1956….
Democrat Adlai Stevenson may have lost to Dwight Eisenhower on the National level, but Hancock County was heavily Democratic in 1956. Candidate Adlai Stevenson carried Hancock County with 9,524 votes against Republican Dwight Eisenhower’s 8,750. West Virginia, however, supported Ike by 449,297 votes to Stevenson’s 381,534. In the 1960 Presidential Primary West Virginia has been referred to by many historians as the turning point in John F. Kennedy’s race against Hubert Humphrey. Rumors were that Kennedy’s father, Joe Kennedy, sent in funds to deliver votes in Southern West Virginia and published stories vary as to whether then Hancock County Chairman Dick Wright met with Joe Kennedy or even Frank Sinatra prior to the Primary. The General Election found JFK with a comfortable margin in Hancock County against Richard Nixon with Kennedy garnering 10,174 and Nixon 8, 031. On a Statewide basis Kennedy received 441,786 to Nixon’s 395,995. In 1964 Lyndon Johnson carried Hancock County by a large majority – 14,001 to Barry Goldwater’s 5,009. West Virginia turned out 2 to 1 majority for LBJ with 533,087 votes to Goldwater’s 233, 953.
Hubert Humphrey may have won West Virginia and Hancock County in 1968, but he failed to capture the presidency losing to Richard Nixon. Hancock County cast 10,197 votes for Humphrey to 6,181 for Nixon. Third party candidate George Wallace received 2,476. West Virginia carried Humphrey 363,962 to 317,260 for Nixon. In 1972 George McGovern did not fare as well against Nixon as West Virginia cast 484,963 for Nixon and 277,434. Hancock County cast 6,727 votes for McGovern and 10,634 for Nixon.
As the nation reeled from Watergate President Gerald Ford could not distance himself from the scandal. Jimmy Carter became president in 1976 and Hancock County went with the winner with 10,627 for Carter and 6,771 for Gerald Ford as did West Virginia with 435,914 for Carter and 314,260 for Ford. While Hancock County and the State stuck with Carter, the Nation elected Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980. Carter received 8,784 and Reagan 6,619 in Hancock County with Carter garnering 361,462 in the State to Reagan’s 334,206. Hancock County went Democratic for Walter Mondale (8,708) against Reagan (7,320), but West Virginia voted for a winner with Reagan getting 405,483 against Mondale’s 328,125, in 1984. While Republican George Bush won the white Housein 1988, he lost West Virginia and Hancock County with Bush garnering 5882 votes Dukakis 8338 in Hancock County. West Virginia cast 341,016 votes for Dukakis to Bush’s 310, 061.
The nineties saw a Democrat called Bill Clinton sweep the Country and West Virginia in his race against Bush. In 1992 Hancock County gave Clinton 7,830 to Bush’s 3.897 while West Virginia turned out 331,001 to 241,184 for Bush. In 1996, Clinton received 7,521 to Bob Dole’s 4,269 with West Virginia carrying Clinton 327,812 to 233,946. While the Sec. of State’s website doesn’t have the County breakdown for 2000, disappointment over Clinton’s reversal on the North American Free Trade Act would carry over to Vice President Al Gore when he made his Presidential Run against George W. Bush with West Virginia tallying 336,475 for Gore and 495,497 for Bush. Third party candidate Pat Buchanan won the endorsement of the frustrated Independent Steelworkers Union of Weirton Steel and earned 3,169 votes in West Virginia. In 2004, both Hancock County and West Virginia went Republican with John Kerry receiving6906 and George W. Bush 7298 in Hancock County. Kerry received 326,541 votes in the State with Bush receiving 423,778.
The Republican trend in Presidential races continued in more recent elections. In 2008 John McCain received 7,518 to Barack Obama’s 5,504 in Hancock County and saw a victory in West Virginia with 397.466 to Obama’s 303,857. In 2012, Mitt Romney may have lost the Presidency, but he beat Obama 7226 to 4627 in Hancock County and 417,660 to Obama’s 238,269 in West Virginia. In 2016 Donald Trump captured Hancock County handily with 8900 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 3262 and West Virginia with 489,794 to Hillary’s 188,794,
We await to learn how the 2020 Presidential Race with Democrat Joe Biden vs. Republican Donald Trump, will shake out in Hancock County, West Virginia and the nation. Hometown News will have a breakdown of all the County and State races on Wednesday.