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banner Friday, 7 January, 2000, 17:21 GMT
West Virginia

West Virginia's five electoral votes will not get much Republican attention. The state's legislature has been Democrat controlled since the 1930s and has only voted Republican three times in the last 65 years.

Key facts
Population: 1,825,754 (ranked 34 among states)
Governor: Cecil H. Underwood (R)
Electoral College votes: 5
West Virginia was once a Republican state, but its mining industries changed that.

After seceding from Virginia after the Civil War, the state based its economy on coal and put itself at the mercy of outside markets. While the economy boomed during the Second World War and during the oil crisis of the 1970s, its fluctuating health damaged West Virginia's long-term development.

1998 Congress
House of Representatives: 3 Democrats
Senate: 2 Democrats
Immigrant workers came and went, developments such as machine strip-mining replaced miners, and regulations like the 1990 Clean Air Act further reduced the demand for West Virginia's high-sulphur coal.

Between 1950 and 1997 coal mine employment dropped from 22% of the state's workforce to just 3.9%.

Voting record
1996: Clinton 52%, Dole 37%, Perot 11%
1992: Clinton 48%, Bush 35%, Perot 16%
1988: Bush 47%, Dukakis 45%
And despite West Virginian pride and loyalty, the 1980s saw the largest population decrease of any state in the US.

But there are signs the state is entering a new phase of recovery. Unemployment is the lowest it's been since 1978 and $1.5 billion of federal projects have been channelled into West Virginia's economy. Companies such as Toyota and Georgia Pacific have also made investments, healthcare is expanding and the number of farms is growing again.

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Links to more States stories are at the foot of the page.


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