Is Charleston, West Virginia a Conservative City?

Politics has become an increasingly important factor in moving for many Americans. In our divided country it can be nice to live around people who share your values. For conservatives considering West Virginia is Charleston a conservative place?

Charleston, West Virginia is a moderately conservative city. West Virginia is a very conservative state, but Charleston is more liberal. The city has Democrat representatives and a Democrat mayor, but many residents also own firearms and are more conservative on the economy.

Charleston is a great place to live for conservatives. Keep reading to get the information you need to know about being a conservative in Charleston, WV.

Info about Charleston, WV

  • Population (July 2021): 48,081
  • Race: White (non-Hispanic) 78.3%, Black 14.3%, Asian 2.4%, Hispanic/Latino 1.0%
  • Median Household Income- $49,769

Charleston is the state capital and largest city in West Virginia with only 48,081 people living in the city despite the state having a very similar population to Idaho and more people than Hawaii. Even Wyoming which has 1/3rd the population of West Virginia has two cities that are larger. The state is almost entirely small cities and towns and then those living in the rural areas. This tends to show up in their politics.

Charleston is an old city that has been around since the revolutionary war. During the Civil war, it traded hands between the confederate and union sides but spent most of its time under union control. West Virginia was made its own state during the civil war due to the political differences between Virginia and West Virginia and the Union’s desire to maintain the coal mines and industry in the area.

Charleston based its economy on coal and salt production. West Virginia still produces a lot of coal, but not nearly on the level, it used to. For the last several years the economy has declined in the area and many people have moved out. Politicians frequently promise that they’re going to bring back the coal jobs, but that is very unlikely to happen. The town has been losing population steadily for some time, but the city has been making some revitalization efforts recently.

Federal Elections

Charleston is in a very conservative state. No county in West Virginia voted for the Democrat candidate in the 2020 presidential election. Statewide, Republican candidate Donald Trump won West Virginia 68.6% to 29.7%. Republicans have consistently won the presidential elections in the state since 2000 while creating a larger gap each time.

In Kanawha county where Charleston is the county seat voters voted 56.42% for Donald Trump (R) and 41.76% for Joe Biden (D). However, Of the areas in the county, most of the liberal voters are concentrated in Charleston rather than the other towns and rural communities.

Curiously, West Virginia currently has both a Republican senator and a Democrat senator, in a state that otherwise mostly votes Republican. In the 2020 senate election, Republican Shelley Capito won the election with 62.9% of the vote in Kanawha County. In the 2018 election, Democrat Joe Manchin won his election with 61.6% of the vote in Kanawha county. It wasn’t entirely clear why Joe Manchin was able to win his race by a comfortable margin in a very conservative state other than he was popular and the other candidate was not.

West Virginia has had 3 congressional districts all held by Republicans, but due to a decline in population, the state is losing one of its seats going forward. Starting with the 2022 election West Virginia only has 2 districts, a Northern district, and a Southern district. Charleston resides in the southern district and upon writing this just before the midterm elections it is expected that the district will remain a Republican seat.

State & Local Elections

Up until 2012, West Virginia state offices were entirely controlled by Democrats for many years. This has shifted since the early 2010s and now Republicans hold a strong majority in both the senate and the house. The state had a Democrat governor for even longer. The current governor Jim Justice won as a governor in 2016 before deciding to change parties to become a Republican in 2017. He ran again in 2020 and won with 63.5% of the vote.

Right now, before the 2022 midterm elections, the city is represented by two Democratic representatives. This may possibly change with the district on the south side of the river flipping for republicans, but Charleston is likely to have at least one Democrat representative in the house.

The city is currently represented by 1 liberal state senator and 1 conservative state senator.

The current Mayor of Charleston is a Democrat named Amy Goodwin. She has been fairly liberal on many social issues, but the mayor has done some things that conservatives may agree with more including increasing pay for police and firefighters, demolishing dilapidated buildings, and fairly effective trash clean-ups.


Sales tax in Charleston is 7%. 6% goes to the state and 1% goes to the city of Charleston. This is a fairly middle-of-the-road sales tax. It’s not low, but it’s not especially high either.

West Virginia has a graduated income tax that starts at 3% for everything under $10,000 and then goes up. the top rate is 6.5% for everything over $60,000. Like sales tax, this is not especially high or low, but it is higher than in many other conservative-led states. They did recently pass a law to decrease income taxes by about 10% for most people which is a welcome change.

The one tax situation that is quite good in West Virginia is property taxes. Property taxes in Kanawha county are fairly low with about 0.63% of the assessed value of the home being taxed. This is a fairly low amount compared to other states. Property values tend to be lower in the area than in many other places as well.

Gun Policy

West Virginia is a conservative state when it comes to firearm ownership. About 58.5% of the residents in the state own a firearm. Part of the high rate is cultural given the fact that many of the people here live in either small towns or rural areas where it’s important to be able to defend yourself or your animals since help may be miles away from you. Target shooting and hunting are also fun activities for many of the residents here.

West Virginia is a permitless carry state, meaning that anyone 21 and over who is legally entitled to own a firearm can carry a concealed weapon for self-defense without a not special permit. 18 to 20-year-olds are able to get a provisional concealed carry permit if they wish to carry concealed, or they can carry in the open, though most trainers don’t recommend that in public.

West Virginia doesn’t have any special licenses required to purchase a firearm or any restrictions on the type of firearm you can purchase in the state.

The state is also a strong state for self-defense laws. There is no duty to retreat for self-defense to qualify as self-defense and West Virginia is one of the states that provides civil immunity to those that are ruled to have acted in self-defense in the criminal case. In some states, you could win your self-defense case in court, but then if you’re sued by the attacker in a civil case you would have to prove everything all over again. Some people have won their criminal cases only to be in and out of court with civil cases for years and pay lots of money. In West Virginia, you only have to prove self-defense the first time.

Abortion Policy

After the Supreme Court’s decision on June 24, 2022, to overturn Roe v Wade, abortion policy became a state issue again. West Virginia passed an abortion ban in September that bans all abortions in the state.

The only exceptions to the law are abortions in medical emergencies to save the life of the mother and abortions in the case of rape. Victims of rape are required to report the rape to the police at least 48 hours before the procedure and the abortion must be performed by a physician in a hospital. This essentially gets rid of abortion clinics.

Medical providers that perform illegal abortions are subject to 10 years in prison for violations. There are no prison penalties or fines for the mother which is consistent with most other state laws of this kind.

The only abortion clinic in the state which was located in Charleston ceased its abortion operations after the ban was passed and they were advised by their lawyers.

Conservatives may have different views on Abortion, but for most of them, this is an important win.

What Parts of Charleston are More Conservative?

You really can’t go wrong anywhere in West Virginia when it comes to finding conservative neighbors. Most of the more liberal people tend to live near the state capitol and that area of the city. South Charleston, Dunbar, and the neighborhoods on the south side of the river from Charleston tend to be more conservative.

Nathan Aydelotte

Hello! I'm Nathan, the lead editor for Suggested by locals. I grew up in the Boise, Idaho area and have lived here most of my life. I enjoy being close to the mountains where I can go hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

Recent Posts