I have a column running in Politico next week about how Virginia is going to be a tough state for Barack Obama. Not that he’s not well suited for Virginia — he’s a great candidate to win independents and run up the vote with liberals and African-Americans. But McCain is even stronger in Virginia.
Here’s a sneak-peak of the column. What do you think — Can Democrats really turn Virginia blue this November?
If you listen to most armchair pundits, you probably expect Virginia to be a pivotal swing state this November, or maybe even “up for grabs,” as one Washington Post reporter declared it recently. But the truth is that while Virginia is purpling, John McCain has advantages in the Old Dominion that few other candidates would have.
To be sure, Virginia Democrats do have reason to be optimistic: They won the Executive Mansion in 2005, took at Republican U.S. Senate seat in 2006 and reclaimed the state Senate in 2007. But in 2004, George W. Bush walked to an eight point victory in the commonwealth, which actually was a higher margin than he lost to John Kerry in the reliably blue state of New Jersey. Three and a half years later, Virginia will be more competitive, but Barack Obama – and the national media – shouldn’t underestimate just how well suited McCain is to win Virginia’s 13 electoral votes.
He starts with a strong base of military personnel, has solid support in Virginia’s key swing constituency of moderate Republicans and has a significant leg up over Obama in Appalachian hill country.