WEST Virginia Republicans have taken over a piece of election high ground that has been dominated historically by the Democrats: straight ticket voting.
A Republican strategist working on the 2014 election, who asked that his name not be used, has forwarded me a county-by-county list of straight-ticket voting by party from the 2012 general election.
The list includes 52 of the 55 counties. Summers County is still out, as are Braxton and Wyoming, which use paper ballots and do not count straight-ticket ballots.
Still, for the 52 that have checked in, the numbers show 87,323 Republican straight-ticket ballots compared with 82,539 Democratic ones. A total of 3,765 voted straight tickets for either Mountain Party or Libertarian.
So Republicans held a 50.3 percent to 47.5 percent advantage in straight-ticket voting in 2012 in those counties.
What's perhaps more interesting is the number of counties that switched from having a majority of Democratic straight-ticket voters to Republican.
According to the figures I've seen, 26 of the 53 reporting counties had a higher percentage of straight-ticket Republican voters. In 2010, only 16 of those 53 counties had more Republican straight-ticket ballots.
Twelve counties (Barbour, Greenbrier, Marshall, Mercer, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pleasants, Raleigh, Roane, Taylor, Tucker and Wirt) flipped from "D" to "R" in straight-ticket ballots. One county, Jefferson, went the other way.
One of the most notable switches was Raleigh County.
In 2010, 53 percent of the straight-ticket ballots were Democratic and 46 percent were Republican.
But in the last election, 57 percent were Republican and 42 percent were Democratic.