Missing the Mountain State

Something was missing from the state-by-state summary of the political races contained in the A section of your Nov. 3 edition: West Virginia.

All 49 other states and the District of Columbia were included, but there was no mention of either Sen. Jay Rockefeller's expected victory or the close race between Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Jim Humphreys. As one who just moved there six months ago, I can testify that (a) West Virginia exists and (b) the quality of life is surpassed only by its physical beauty -- especially during the fall. Now, I can regard this as an unfortunate oversight by your editors, but Sen. Robert Byrd may see it as an excuse to finish moving the rest of the U.S. government to West Virginia, and to return the District of Columbia to Maryland. These mistakes can have consequences.

-- David C. John

Wartime Apathy

Though the results of Tuesday's election are certainly dramatic, David Broder's " 'Accidental' No More" is rife with hyperbole [op-ed, Nov. 7]. He cites as evidence of support for President Bush the fact that "not a single Republican governor running for reelection lost. The only incumbent Republican senator defeated was Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas."

But it is also true that only two Democratic governors lost reelection, and just one previously elected Democratic senator lost. Additionally, Republicans benefited from the sudden deaths of two Democrats in plane crashes (one an incumbent senator, the other the governor of Missouri).

As Howard Kurtz noted, "29,000 votes in Minnesota, 11,500 in Missouri and 9,500 in New Hampshire" determined control of the Senate -- and half of the electorate didn't even bother to vote ["Media Flunk the Midterms," Style, Nov. 7]. In a post-9/11 time of war, this is hardly a resounding endorsement of the president.

-- Frank Campagna

Miffed in Minnesota

Mary McGrory [op-ed, Nov. 7] seems to imply that even if the memorial service for the late Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone was a little crass, "hardy Minnesotans" should have been able to "get over it" and vote for Fritz Mondale. McGrory too blithely dismisses the strong sense of inappropriateness felt by many Minnesotans at the sorry spectacle. If Minnesota had capital crimes, it is likely that rudeness and disrespect would be near the top of the list.

I doubt that Wellstone would have disinvited the vice president to the service because he was a political opponent, or would have countenanced booing Republicans and independents who came to show their respect. That this deeply offended many Minnesotans, and likely affected the outcome of the election, is a message that should not be ignored.

-- David Miller

Math Challenge

A Nov. 5 article said that 75 House candidates faced no serious challenge in Tuesday's election. It then broke that number down by party: 41 Republicans and 35 Democrats.

I realize politicians often use fuzzy math to support their positions. But I didn't know the practice extended to political reporting, too.

-- Bart Astor

Seniors' Moment

I must take exception to cartoonist Mike Luckovich's message that Walter F. Mondale and Frank R. Lautenberg are too old to be U.S. senators [Drawing Board, Nov. 2]. People who are elderly are not ipso facto incompetent. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Dr. Albert Schweitzer were, and cartoonist Al Hirshfeld is, productive at an age well beyond that of the leaders targeted by Luckovich. And I do miss that over-aged (and therefore incompetent, per Luckovich) cartoonist, the great Herblock: He was the acknowledged dean of cartoonists into his nineties.

-- Irvin A. Lavine

Whoops!

In her Nov. 2 preview article on the Virginia Tech-University of Pittsburgh football game [Sports], staff writer Angela Watts used the term "whooping" ostensibly to describe the Tech defeat of Syracuse University's football team by a score of 62-0 in 1999.

By definition, "whooping" (pronounced hooping) refers to a cry, shout or other sound uttered by someone or something that whoops.

Perhaps in trying to describe the nature of the defeat, she mistakenly used "whooping" when she meant to use either "whopping," meaning thumping, or "whipping," or even, perhaps, in the southern vernacular, "whupping" (whuppin'), which also denotes a sound defeat.

-- Sam W. Joseph