Daily Kos Elections' project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for every state legislative seat in the nation hits the halfway point with West Virginia, the 25th state we’ve done. You can find our master list of states here, which we'll be updating as we add new data sets; you can also find all of our calculations from 2016 and past cycles here.
Democrats won control of the state legislature in the 1930s, and they held both chambers even as West Virginia began favoring GOP presidential candidates. As recently as 2012, Democrats won a 54-46 majority in the state House and a 24-10 Senate edge even as Mitt Romney was carrying the state 62-36. However, the GOP finally flipped both chambers in the 2014 wave (though it was a party switch that gave them the Senate).
Last year, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton 69-26, his best state outside of Wyoming, and Team Red currently holds a 64-36 state House edge and a 22-12 Senate majority. Interestingly, Democrat Jim Justice also won the governor’s office last year, though he had a very Trumpesque appeal despite his party affiliation. Several Democrats still hold very red turf, but not nearly as many as just a few years ago. It only takes a simple majority of both chambers to override the governor’s veto.
We’ll start with a look at the state House, which is up every two years. The state House is divided into 67 different districts, and they can have anywhere between one and five representatives. Clinton carried exactly one seat in either chamber, taking the Charleston-area’s HD-37 64-30, though this was still a big drop from Obama’s 71-26 win here in 2012. Clinton lost three state House seats that had backed Obama: One of these Obama/Trump seats has a Democratic member, while the other two are represented by the GOP. Interestingly, Clinton’s second-best seat has a GOP member. HD-67, located in the Eastern Panhandle, went from 52-46 Obama to just 48-46 Trump, but Republican Riley Moore won his first term 51-49.
The reddest seat with a Democratic representative is HD-20 in the southern part of the state. This Coal Country district went from 70-28 Romney to 82-16 Trump, but Democratic incumbent Justin Marcum won a third term 67-33. (This is an early contender for reddest seat held by a Democrat anywhere in the country.) Another 13 Democrats come from seats where Trump won at least 70 percent of the vote. Almost every Democrat represents a seat that backed Trump by double digits … though that’s mainly because Trump won 63 of the 67 seats by double digits.
Trump’s margin was greater than Romney’s in every single seat. The smallest swing toward Trump was in HD-51, located in the north, which barely moved from 53-44 Romney to 51-41 Trump. This five-member district has three Democratic representatives and two Republicans. The largest swing toward Trump was in HD-02 in the Northern Panhandle. Romney won it by a relatively modest 54-44, but Trump took it 69-29; however, Democrat Phil Diserio won his first term last year 61-39.
We’ll turn to the state Senate. Each of the 17 districts elects one senator in a presidential year, and the other in a midterm year. Both Trump and Romney carried every single one of the Senate seats. Trump’s worst seat was SD-13, which is located in the northern part of the state. This district, which has two Democratic members, went from 52-45 Romney to 53-40 Trump.
Interestingly, the reddest seat in the whole chamber has two Democratic senators as well. SD-07, which is located in Coal Country, went from 66-31 Romney to 78-19 Trump, but Democrat Richard Ojeda won his first term 59-41 last year. Ojeda, who volunteered that he backed Trump during the campaign, is currently running for West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District. Not surprisingly, each Senate seat also swung toward Trump. The largest swing was in the SD-07 while the smallest was in SD-13, which just happen to be the two seats we mentioned above.