From time to time I check in with fellow Virginian Larry J. Sabato about the state of the presidential race here and in other swing states. Sabato tells me:
“I’ve always said Virginia was a toss-up but unless McCain is losing by 5-8 points nationally, he can probably eke out a win. [Sarah] Palin has only a marginal effect in Virginia. McCain’s veteran ties are far more important in this veteran-rich state. “
How big a factor are vets? He says, “Almost 15%. Vets may be a larger proportion of the voting population since they are older and their turnout is higher. And of course you can more than double that percentage once you include their immediate families.” (Virginia isn’t the only state where that is true, of course. Florida, for example, has the second largest veteran population after California.)
So while everyone is swept up by Palin-mania, it is important to remember that the race still will come down to a few states and some key demographic groups, some of whom — like veterans — get virtually no attention from the mainstream media.