When Josh Nelson decided to run for the House of Delegates in Boone County last year, even his father told him he was crazy.
Nelson, a coal miner and former Marine, is a Republican and Democrats hold a 7-1 registration advantage in Boone County.
But Nelson won, smashing Democratic incumbent Larry Barker 62 percent to 38 percent.
Nelson's victory was part of a dramatic shift in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Republicans went from 35 seats in 2010 to 46 in 2012, while Democrats dropped from 65 to 54.
The question now is whether that was a one-time occurrence or an indication of a larger trend in West Virginia toward finally becoming a two-party state.
Republican campaign strategist Greg Thomas believes it's the latter.
Thomas, who ran Republican Bill Maloney's two gubernatorial campaigns, has put together a series of election numbers he says demonstrate that the political shift in West Virginia is real.
* For example, the number of Democratic votes for House of Delegates candidates is trending downward. It reached 923,000 in 2004, dropped slightly in 2008, then plummeted to 577,000 in the last election.
* Meanwhile, the number of votes cast for Republican House members has been generally trending upward. Republican House candidates received 36,000 more votes in 2012 than 2008, while Democratic House candidates received 324,000 fewer votes.
One explanation is that the Republican Party is doing a better job fielding viable candidates.
* In 2008, there were only 62 Republican House candidates, compared with 93 Democrats. In 2012, there were 82 Republican and 87 Democratic candidates.