West Virginia Primary Results LIVE: Mitt Romney Defeats Ron Paul

West Virginia —a state that trends conservative and will likely swing Republican in the 2012 general election — is holding its primary race today.

Romney will, of course, win the contest, even if Ron Paul has been surging of late. The Teas libertarian has performed well in caucus states where he can gather delegates. In a straight primary determined by popular vote, though, Paul hasn’t been known to make a big splash.

Polls close at 7:30 p.m.

PolicyMic will be live blogging the results.

LIVE 10:15 PM The results are in: 


This is the final update of the evening.

9:26 PM 30% reporting: Romney walking away with it, with 69.9% of the vote.

8:45 PM Now 8.5% reporting: Romney 71.7%, Paul 9.9%. 

8:08 PM Results starting to trickle in. Still < 1% reporting, Romney with 941 votes (73.4%). Santorum and Gingrich are still on the ballot. But Ron Paul is in clear second place, with 142 votes (11.1%).

7:21 PM On the ground report via former WV House staffer: "Though the GOP side of the West Virginia primary may seem more interesting because it lacks an incumbent presidential candidate, the two most interesting stories of the primary may well come from the Democratic side. First, Senator Manchin and Governor Tomblin have expressed ambivalence recently about supporting President Obama's reelection -- a big story in the state. Both also faced primary opposition. While the incumbents should cruise to victory, it will be worth seeing if there is a backlash against them from the left. Second, due to the state's liberal ballot-access laws, West Virginia is the only state where the president faces a primary opponent. It turns out the man is a prison inmate, and there is fear that he could get the 15% necessary to be awarded a delegate."

Updates 5:15 p.m. Romney Will Win West Virginia in May and November? A media poll in April showed Mitt Romney leading Obama by 17 points.

5 p.m. Can Romney Win in the South? The one region of the country which has alluded Romney during the primary cycle is the South. The presumptive GOP nominee has claimed victories in the northeast, the West, the Midwest, but he has yet to claim victory in a southern state, besides Virginia where several of his competitors failed to qualify for the ballot. With Gingrich and Santorum both gone from the race, Romney will carry North Carolina and West Virginia on Tuesday, but the question remains as to how much of the vote he’ll actually receive.

BACKGROUND

According to the secretary of state's office, there are 1,226,545 eligible voters in West Virginia. Though the state has traditionally been a conservative bastion, there are more Democrats than Republicans, with 640,888 (52.25%) registered Democrat; 352,304 (28.72%) Republicans; 1,286 (.10%) Mountain Party, and 210,562 (17.17%) with no party affiliation. There are 21,505 (1.75%) registered with another political party.

Rules for the election of convention delegates are set by the state party. The West Virginia Republican Party has determined three delegates are selected by virtue of their party office and without being elected. The other 28 delegates are elected by popular vote. The 28 elected delegates are divided between congressional districts — three for each district — and state-wide (at-large). A total of 112 candidates statewide are running for at-large delegate to the Republican National Convention.

A look at the races:

Governor: Businessman Bill Maloney (R) is a cinch to face Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) after falling by just three points in 2011. Could he fare better this year, given how anti-Obama the state is? A media poll in April showed Tomblin leading by 28 points despite GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney leading Obama by 17 points. 

Senate: Sen. Joe Manchin (D) also faces a rematch with businessman John Raese. But given Raese couldn’t win a special election in 2010 (or in three previous statewide bids), and Manchin remains VERY popular in his home state. It’s hard to see why Manchin doesn’t win a full term. The same poll that showed Tomblin up 28 points showed Manchin up by 52 (!), 74 percent to 22 percent.

Congress 3rd district: Republicans are keeping an eye on state Del. Rick Snuffer (R) — GREAT name — in hopes that he can raise some money and give Rep. Nick Joe Rahall (D) a race, but this is still a lower-tier target.