‘Experts’ wrong about West Virginia

A lesson should have been learned by politicians — and political analysts — who thought they knew everything about West Virginians in the lead-up to the primary election here. They do not.

Plenty of know-it-alls both inside and outside the state decided before the election that Don Blankenship, running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, had a good chance of winning. To those paying attention to their prognostications, the “experts” made it clear they had not done their homework when they kept referring to Blankenship as “a felon.” He was convicted only of a misdemeanor.

What happened was a surprise then, to many who thought they could see the writing on the wall.

Blankenship appeared to be following what he had likely been advised was the Trump template. In fact, he was at one point labeled “Trumpier than Trump.” Talking heads across the country were certain a large number of West Virginians would support Blankenship because of it. But Blankenship received only about 20 percent of the vote, finishing third-place in the race. He was beaten soundly by state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who will go on to face Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. in November.

Maybe this will be a humbling experience for those still out on the campaign trail until November. Perhaps the clear evidence that West Virginia voters have minds of their own, do not always follow party stereotypes, and put some thought into the character of the person they would like to see in office will stick with them.

We can only hope.