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Is Virginia Going Blue?

There’s a lot of talk these days about my home state of Virginia. Right now the polls show a virtual dead heat. The McCain-Palin ticket turned out between 23,000 and 15,000 people (depending on your favorite estimate) on a weekday in Northern Virginia’s Fairfax County (where I reside), which is trending Democratic. The Obama camp has had high hopes here, but I remain skeptical how doable the state is for him.

In 2006 George Allen ran a horrid Senate race (with the burden of the Washington Post’s 100 “macaca” stories) and lost the state by 7,000 votes, largely by getting creamed in Fairfax County by 65,000 votes. The question remains whether John McCain can do better. I suspect he can, based on a few factors.

First, when last we checked McCain was running strongly in outer suburban counties in Northern Virginia (e.g. Loudoun). Second, judging from the turnout last week and the flurry of signs and McCain-Palin bumper stickers now evident in Fairfax, he may do considerably better here than Allen did in 2006. Third, McCain enjoys the benefit of Virginia’s very large veteran/military population which will heavily favor him. Finally, rural voters and Evangelicals who were lukewarm to McCain in the primary now have every incentive to turn out, if only to express their enthusiasm for the bottom of the ticket.

On the other hand, Obama will turn out African Americans in large numbers in the Richmond area, and there are some 210,000 newly registered voters in the state, which may mean significant numbers of new Obama supporters.

On balance, unless the dynamic shifts to a runaway national victory for Obama, I just don’t see Virginia slipping into the Blue column. The GOP stumbled into one of the few candidates that could hold this Purple state in a close election.



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