The Battle for Virginia

In today’s must read, the LA Times takes an in-depth look at one of the “ground zero” states in this year’s election: Virginia. If one candidate wins both Ohio and Virginia they almost certainly win the election.

A key fact in the piece about the state that cannot be overstated: “Northern Virginia is much wealthier than the rest of the state. It has much more of a connection to Washington, and so it’s unlike any other part of the country.” This is immeasurably important because when much of the country complains of stimulus spending and the incredible expansion of government, it is this geographic area that is THE beneficiary of the spending and expansion. Basically this is where all your money goes. They love Obama and can’t understand why the rest of the country isn’t doing as well as they are. This is the crux of the increasing difficulty for Republicans in the densely populated areas of Northern Virginia.

Nearly the entire article is fantastic so I encourage you to read the whole thing (as a wise man often says). Other than a brief foray into the “demography is destiny” reason for future Democrat dominance (that has been debunked many times) this article is chock full of most everything you want to know about possibly the key state in this election:

President Obama’s reelection depends heavily on young and minority voters. Candidate Obama capitalized on demographic shifts four years ago, mobilizing an army of newly registered voters and becoming the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the Old Dominion since 1964. If Obama took Virginia again, he could afford to lose Ohio and Florida, larger swing states he also won last time. Romney, on the other hand, will find it very hard to get to 270 electoral votes if he can’t claim Virginia. “Virginia holds the keys to the kingdom,” said Rick Wiley, the Republican National Committee political director, who is working closely with the Romney campaign. Obama has a small lead in recent statewide polling, but Democrats and Republicans expect a close finish. Both sides say Virginia will ultimately be won or lost in the far suburbs of the state’s population centers, where women are a prized demographic — and the biggest worry for Republican strategists.

Serve and volley:

Romney made a campaign stop in northern Virginia last month for an event with female business owners. The Obama campaign responded when First Lady Michelle Obama gave a pep talk last week to campaign workers in Prince William County, an outer suburb that is a bellwether this year. The event revolved heavily around women’s issues and touched on a controversial Republican proposal in the Virginia Legislature that would have required women to obtain a transvaginal ultrasound before getting an abortion.

Control what you can control:

The unknown in 2012: the course of the economy. Virginia’s unemployment rate, at 5.6%, is the lowest of the 20 most-populous states. Yet parts of Virginia that had been booming and trending Democratic — including the Washington exurbs — are still hurting from the recession, which could reduce enthusiasm for Obama.

Obama advantage:

Obama enjoys a 16-percentage-point advantage over Romney among Virginia’s female voters, a wider gender gap than in recent national polls, according to a recent Quinnipiac University survey. Another demographic edge for Obama: the state’s large African American population. Black voters, the strongest and most loyal part of the president’s base, make up nearly one-fifth of the Virginia electorate, a greater share than in any other battleground state this year.

Romney targets:

Virginia is still “on the reddish tinge of purple,” the color used to describe places where neither Republicans (red) nor Democrats (blue) hold an advantage. Virginia Republicans roared back to power in statewide elections over the last three years and revitalized the party’s infrastructure. That, GOP strategists say, will make Romney far more competitive against the Obama turnout machine than was 2008 nominee John McCain.

An early Republican voter registration target: white evangelicals, as many as a third of whom are not signed up to vote, GOP officials say. Romney recently gave the commencement speech at one of the country’s largest fundamentalist Christian schools, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., part of a stepped-up appeal to a group whose resistance to the first Mormon presidential nominee of a major party is offset by an intense desire to beat Obama. Romney is also reaching out to rural whites and residents of coal country by attacking the administration’s energy policies.

Last month, Romney talked up his plan to expand the Navy at a campaign stop in Hampton Roads. The state’s second-most populous region boasts the world’s largest naval base, at Norfolk, whose military families have been wooed extensively by Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. Located at the southeastern end of a crescent that slices through the heart of Virginia, from the Washington area to the Atlantic coast, its TV market has been swamped with more presidential campaign advertising than any other in the country, a recent study said.

Playing on your opponent’s turf:

Obama’s decision last month to make Virginia one of two states in which he kicked off his general election campaign confirmed that the state is at the top of his 2012 list. The venue was the former Confederate capital, Richmond, whose suburbs have grown increasingly competitive in recent elections. But northern Virginia is “where the game is,” said the RNC’s Wiley, who recently dispatched several Asian campaign coordinators to the area, the first place in the country to get such assistance.

Rerunning the last campaign:

Northern Virginia got frequent visits by members of both national tickets in 2008. Obama drew more than 80,000 people to his final rally before election day at the Prince William County fairgrounds in Manassas. The county, a microcosm of the region’s astounding social changes, was 94% white as recently as the early 1970s. By 2010, it had become the first large jurisdiction in the area to turn majority-minority. Obama flipped it to the Democrats in 2008, but the county has returned to its Republican ways and is the largest GOP-run jurisdiction in the state. Phil Cox, who managed Republican Bob McDonnell’s successful 2009 campaign for governor, said Romney “absolutely can win Prince William” and singles out younger voters as a key group.

Troubles with the Youth Vote:

Enthusiasm for Obama is clearly down among younger Americans, an elusive voting group even in the best of times. The president’s campaign argues that those who weren’t old enough to vote in 2008 will supply some of the excitement that their older brothers and sisters no longer feel. “It’s important to vote,” said Chelsea Borie, 19, after Obama volunteers had convinced her to register at the community college in Manassas. Borie, who will attend Radford University in the fall, remembers that she was “all for” Obama at the time of the 2008 election. But now, she said, “I definitely can’t stand Obama. He is not doing what he said he’d do. So I’m voting for Mitt Romney.”

Hassan Hosh, 24, wasn’t qualified to vote last time. Brought to the U.S. at age 2 by his Somali parents and raised in northern Virginia, he became a naturalized citizen six months ago. The political science major was an avid viewer of the Republican debates and, like other students, found himself agreeing with libertarian Ron Paul. But he’ll cast his first ballot for Obama. “I’m going to vote for Obama for the simple fact that I don’t agree with Romney as far as immigration is concerned.”

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] enough on the same day the LA Times writes and exceptional expose on Virginia, USA Today has an article on Virginia’s importance to this year’s election. In an […]

  2. […] Virginia […]

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