Katie Glueck of the Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting story on how President Obama looms over the impending U.S. Senate race in Virginia between former governor and DNC chairman Tim Kaine and former governor and ex-Senator George Allen. But what I found particularly interesting is the polling data that showed that among Independent voters there, the president’s approval rating is 41 percent while 54 percent disapprove. This indicates two things: first, Kaine is going to emphasize his tenure as governor rather than DNC chairman, when he worked closely with Obama; and second, the president faces an uphill climb in Virginia.
Remember, too, that Virginia was a showcase state for Democrats in 2008. Obama carried it against John McCain; it was supposed to symbolize the rise of the Democratic Party under Obama as traditionally Republicans states were being snatched up by Democrats. But only a year later – in the 2009 gubernatorial election – Republican Bob McDonnell won by nearly 20 points. And now, 16 months before the 2012 election, President Obama is underwater by 13 points among Independents.
In the end, presidential races come down to winning and losing states – and a lot of traditionally Republican states (like Indiana and North Carolina) that Obama picked off in 2008 will be out of reach for him come 2012. And my guess is Virginia will fall into the category as well.