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The American political landscape has changed a lot over the past 25 years but there is no more dramatic shift than the one that has pushed this state from deep blue to ruby red.

In the 1992 presidential election, Democrat Bill Clinton won West Virginia by a solid 13 percentage points. In November, Republican President-elect Donald Trump captured the state in a walk — winning it by more than 40 percentage points.

The forces behind that turnaround are complex. The decline of the coal industry and the changing demographics of the political parties explain part of it. But underneath that are the peaks and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains that make West Virginia what it is: picturesque, resource-rich and remote.

Coal has dominated much of the state’s story, and the industry’s declines are very real. Coal production in West Virginia has declined by 30 percent since 2010 and, in that time, coal mine employment in West Virginia has fallen by more than 27 percent. Some places have been hit especially hard.




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