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12 May, 2008 22:41

Can Obama win white vote in Mountain State?

In the U.S., ahead of the West Virginia primaries, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were talking more about “clean coal” and less about global warming. They were wooing voters in the state which is the core of America's coal industry. The

Hillary Clinton supporters insisted they are not racist. Yet, they struggle to explain why they prefer Hillary instead of Obama.

“I haven't really thought about that. But I am going to vote for Hillary Clinton. That's all I really know,” one of Clinton supporters said.

Hillary Clinton is expected to win the Mountain State, once again making the point that she has a better chance at beating McCain in the autumn. Recent polls show that Hillary would narrowly beat McCain while Obama would lose against the Republican nominee by nearly 20 points.

Meanwhile, Obama supporters say Hillary's ability to win the blue-collar vote in West Virginia is nothing to brag about.

“We have a very low educated group of people that are uninformed. I don't want to say it's ignorance, but West Virginia has the lowest graduation rate in the U.S.,” one of Obama's supporters said.

Despite its coal reserves, the state also has the second-lowest median household income in the nation. While big coal companies makes millions of dollars every year, ordinary people struggle to make ends meet. With high unemployment rates, few have dared to complain out of fear they might lose their jobs. Staying within their comfort-zones is typical for West Virginians, according to Obama's supporters.

Even a landslide victory will do little for Clinton, whose chances of winning the nomination are slowly slipping away. However, as Obama prepares to close the deal, blue-collar white voters remain the group most resilient to his message of change. Failing to win them over might cost him the presidency.