Bernard Farrell figured that Gov. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV must have been fairly confident about his race for the U. S. Senate because there wasn't the first sign of the vaunted Rockefeller money in this coal-scarred hollow today.
Four years ago, Farrell, and almost everyone else it seemed, had some spending money courtesy of Rockefeller.
"There's none of it out here, I guarantee you," said Farrell of the Democrat's campaign, dancing to keep warm outside Sharon-Dawes Elementary School.
Next to him, Gary Jarvis had pasted a "Democrats for Moore" bumper sticker on his baseball cap, but quickly added that the sign didn't necessarily mean he was voting for Republican Arch A. Moore Jr. for governor or for Rockefeller's Republican opponent, political novice John R. Raese.
"Once you get behind that curtain, no one knows how you vote," said Jarvis.
Jarvis, who lost his job as a mine construction worker two years ago, said he had been paid $60 to wear the hat outside the polling place. "If Clyde See Moore's Democratic opponent had given me $60, I'd have his name up there," he added.
"When you're out of work," explained Farrell, "you take what you can get."
Mike Willard, Rockefeller's press secretary, would not say how much Rockefeller planned to spend on this last day of a $10 million campaign, except to say it would be less than the $800,000 Rockefeller spent on Election Day 1980, enroute to spending $11.7 million to win a second term as governor.
Rockefeller also had refined the system this year, Willard said. The last time, Rockefeller sent large checks to county or precinct chairmen, who divvied up the money to poll workers. This year, Rockefeller sent smaller checks directly to individual workers.
Farrell, who described himself as "a straight Democrat from the sole of my feet to the top of my head -- I wouldn't vote for my grandmother if she were running as a Republican," said the Democrats had only $200 to spend in his Precinct 144 today, compared to $600 four years ago.
Farrell said that although he "never saw a Republican sign up this creek before, and I'm 58," he said the abundance of Moore signs did not necessarily reflect voter sentiment.
"There's hardly a person working in this hollow, and it's 18 miles long," he said. "If a fellow's gonna pass out money to put up signs, someone will put them up. And if a guy comes along behind you and tears them down, well, you've done your job."
Farrell believes Rockefeller made a mistake when he upped the ante in 1980. "He ruined a lot of good people," Farrell said. "This time they expected it, and it didn't come."
Down the road a mile, Jack Hastings, a Democratic captain in Precinct 145, said he had hired about 10 people, paying $65 for drivers and $45 for riders such as the man who shared the cab of his van. Asked why riders were paid, Hastings patiently explained that "they know people, too."
The system should appeal to venture capitalists. "Some people will vote the way you want them to, and some won't," said the pragmatic Hastings.
Vote buying wasn't always such a risky business in West Virginia.
The practice of passing out cash on Election Day is as old as the hills here. In the days before automated voting, some party workers operated a scam called the daisy chain: The first voter of the day, rather than placing his ballot in the box, stuck it in his pocket and took it outside to someone who gave him a specified reward -- a half-pint of whiskey was the currency as often as cash -- in return for an unmarked ballot. The worker then marked the ballot for the favored candidates and gave it to the next voter, who cast that ballot and brought a new, unmarked ballot out of the booth. And so on.
Whiskey is still part of operating expenses. The aromas emanating from the cab of Hasting's van included booze, biscuits from a nearby Druther's and hot dogs and mustard from the booth inside the polling place set up by the women of the Hope Christian Assembly.
The precinct has lost a lot of its voters in recent years, as unemployed miners moved to Cleveland, Detroit and other big cities looking for work. But of those who remain, Democrats outnumber Republicans 20- or 30-to-1.
Hastings, an unemployed Valley Camp Coal Co. miner, said he "voted for Jay to get him out of the state. He let us down. He promised our party organization a lot, said he had clout, but we didn't see any of it.'
As far as the money, Hastings said it came "from a fellow down the road. I didn't ask him where he got it."
Robert Hodges, 27, and his wife, Yvonne, 25, said they had been promised $80 between them. "We don't get it until the polls close," she said. The Hodges began work about 9 a.m. and by midafternoon had brought half a dozen people to the polling place at Dry Branch.
They didn't try to influence the people they drove to the poll other than to give them the business cards of a number of local Democratic candidates.
The Hodges said they were going to get their money from Jack Kauff, who was working the precinct for Moore, but they were undecided about who to vote for, except that Yvonne Hodges said she planned to vote for Mondale.
Kauff, 44, an embittered unemployed miner, mimicked a Rockefeller television commercial by saying, "I'm just another part of Jay's jobs program." He said he was supporting Republicans Raese and Moore because "Jay doesn't have enough millions to buy me."
The Hodges didn't view their activity today so much as a political act as an economic one. Robert Hodges, a railroad worker at a local mine, was laid off two months ago. Asked if she were concerned that they were participating in a form of vote buying, Yvonne Hodges said, "We've got three kids. We didn't ask where the money came from. We just know we need it."