Against Obama, even a jailbird gets votes
Charleston - Just how unpopular is President Barack Obama in some parts of the United States? Enough that a man in prison in Texas is getting 4 out of 10 votes in West Virginia's Democratic presidential primary.
The inmate, Keith Judd, is serving time at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Texas for making threats at the University of New Mexico in 1999. With 93% of precincts reporting, Obama was receiving just under 60% of the vote to Judd's 40%.
For some West Virginia Democrats, simply running against Obama is enough to get Judd votes.
"I voted against Obama," said Ronnie Brown, a 43-year-old electrician from Cross Lanes who called himself a conservative Democrat. "I don't like him. He didn't carry the state before and I'm not going to let him carry it again."
When asked which presidential candidate he voted for, Brown said, "That guy out of Texas."
Judd was able to get on the state ballot by paying a $2 500 fee and filing a form known as a notarised certification of announcement, said Jake Glance, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State's office.
No delegate for Judd
Attracting at least 15% of the vote would normally qualify a candidate for a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
But state Democratic Party Executive Director Derek Scarbro said no one has filed to be a delegate for Judd. The state party also believes that Judd has failed to file paperwork required of presidential candidates, but officials continue to research the matter, Scarbro said.
Voters in other conservative states showed their displeasure with Obama in Democratic primaries last March.
In Oklahoma, anti-abortion protester Randall Terry got 18% of the primary vote. A lawyer from Tennessee, John Wolfe, pulled nearly 18 000 votes in the Louisiana primary. In Alabama, 18% of Democratic voters chose "uncommitted" in the primary rather than vote for Obama. In Tuesday's North Carolina primary, 21% of Democratic voters marked "no preference".
Obama's energy policies and the Environmental Protection Agency's handling of mining-related permits have incurred the wrath of West Virginia's coal industry.
With the state the nation's second-biggest producer of this fossil fuel, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Senator Joe Manchin - both Democrats who have championed the industry - have declined to say whether they will support Obama in the November election.
Hillary Clinton beat Obama handily in the state's 2008 primary, and he lost the state to Republican John McCain in the general election.
The latest state-by-state Gallup poll, released in January, found Obama with a 32.7% approval rating in West Virginia. The president had a lower approval rating only in Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma and Wyoming.
"Keith Judd's performance is embarrassing for Obama and our great state," outgoing West Virginia Republican Chairperson Mike Stuart said.
Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won West Virginia's GOP primary on Tuesday with more than 69% of the vote, with 93% of precincts reporting. Rick Santorum followed with 12%, while Ron Paul had 11%.