Virginia Will be an Uphill Battle for Obama

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.

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5 responses to “Virginia Will be an Uphill Battle for Obama

  1. TheTallestTree

    The best chance Obama has in Virginia must be coupled with a Virginian on the ticket (Webb, Warner, Kaine, etc.) That said, Obama-VirginianVP has about as much a chance of winning Virginia as a McCain-Pawlenty ticket in Minnesota: not much.

  2. I disagree. I think that a McCain-Pawlenty ticket is a pretty good idea. I think it puts Minnesota seriously in play in November. (It at least puts a lot of pressure of Obama there.) Remember, MN is not the blowout for Dems as it once was.

    Re: Virginia: I agree with the blogger. All of the internal evidence I have seen is that Virginia is probably not as much of a swing for Obama as has been advertised. The polling evidence that shows Obama close to or even with McCain has one thing in common: vastly oversampling independents.

  3. I do think that picking Webb would help Obama’s chances, but then given Webb’s gender (and his history of having made sexist remarks) I don;t think this will stand BO in good stead elsewhere. I tend to agree with the columnist’s assessment that VA will favor McCain and that he will win it.

    Still, the once solid South is in danger of tilting, if not this cycle then perhaps the next.

  4. If McCain’s so popular with military personnel, why were Obama and Ron Paul the biggest recipients of donations from the active service men and women? And why would they vote – and their duty and laws keep them from actively campaigning – for McCain, when most of them also want to get out of Iraq and back to business in Afghanistan? Best reexamine that assumption.

  5. I disagree about McCain’s “strengths” in VA. Look at his county-by-county results in the primary against Huckabee held on the same night as Obama’s against Clinton. Obama’s strength in VA is far wider and deeper than McCain, even in the critical SE where the military votes you speak are found. Huckabee took a few counties from that area. Another thing that has to be considered is an enthusiasm gap. Quite frankly Reps have not been that enthusiastic about McCain. Even after he secured the nomination back on March 4 fully 30% of the votes in the remaining primaries have gone to other candidates.

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