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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

  • demit

    Hillary supporter faces backward and to the left of the frame (the past), Obama supporter faces foreward and to the right of the frame (the future). Also, Hillary is on the outside looking in. Did I get that right?
    This is the longest denouement in the history of, well, history. Please let it be over today. I want to see our party turn its attention to McCain. He needs to have the glare of the spotlight on him.

  • steve

    element of the numbered bleacher seats.
    The bleacher seats are temporary, recessing into each other like the ones on the next level behind them.
    They hold an incredible load of weight then collapse away until the next use.
    Much like the voting process and the respect given to the voters by politicians.

  • black dog barking

    The temporary bleacher seats enable the local school district to use the same space for games, practice, and gym class. Efficient, though not as comfortable as permanent arena seating.
    We’ve seen lots of pictures from these settings over this primary cycle. While the network media coverage ran out of meaningful commentary a long time ago, this part of the campaign — national figures showing up at the local school — has probably had a beneficial effect, connecting those that haven’t been connected except through the tube for quite a while. Haven’t really seen anything like this since 1968.

  • martin

    Cindy on the cusp – tax denial!!
    Barbies in the mirror – image.
    And an editorial on the confessional: ‘..I’ve tried to remain impartial…”
    And now a bunch of folk looking impartially – Reverent?
    Wouldnt, couldnt have any relevance to a Post-Wrightian advertizing slow down? would it. Bag-folk.
    Folk that: how r the next 5 posts gonna play out?
    Impartial; I have tried to remain….

  • catfood

    Still sitting at the back of the bus in West Virginia.

  • Joe Librull

    As a teenager in 1962 I moved from a small town in northern Maine where I had lived my entire life to a small town in West Texas. Recently I was looking at a photograph of a school assembly taken on the first day of school in the gym of my new High School. All the black students, perhaps 5% of the assembly, are sitting together in the back away from the white students. This image reminds me of that. This has to change!

  • Joe Librull

    Very witty Martin. I think. What are you trying to say?

  • K

    Y’all have to read Dana Milbank’s column today. He reveals exactly how many people/reporters were present during the entire ridiculous debacle. And it’s DARN funny if you remember Monty Python.

  • K

    THIS link will work.

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