[Posted by WLS]
I’ve posted here and in comments several times that Virginia simply isn’t the kind of battleground state for a liberal like Obama that the media thinks it is. Jay Cost over at RealClearPolitics has a great explanation why this is the case.
Jay breaks down Virginia into 4 major geographical regions — Metro DC, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Rest/Rural.
The emerging strength of the Dems in Virginia is in the DC metro area. But a liberal like Kerry won the DC metro area by only 5% over Bush in 2004, whereas more conservative Dems who have won statewide in Virgiaia –Webb and Kaine recently — carried the DC metro area by +15%. I suspect the same was true of Mark Warner’s statewide win.
But, even if Kerry had tripled the size of his margin in the DC metro area, he would still have lost the state to Bush in 2004.
The key to Dems winning in VIrginia is to carry a significant portion of the vote in Virginia Beach, not nominally increasing the size of their margin in metro DC. Kerry won only 36% of the vote in Virginia Beach in 2004, and lost the state by 260,000 votes. Webb won 42% of the votes in Virginia Beach in 2006, and beat George Allen by 9300 votes.
For those of you who don’t know, Virginia Beach is the home of the Norfolk Naval Base and Hampton Roads Shipyard — its the Pearl Harbor of the East, only much bigger. As Cost points out, 20% of the voting age population in the area are veterans. Throw in active duty and their families, and you’ve got a pretty large percentage of the population that is connected to the military.
How likely is it that Obama will come even remotely close to Webb’s vote percentage in Virginia Beach? I doubt he can get to Kerry’s totals given that Kerry, though very liberal, was a Vietnam veteran. Kerry ran against Bush with a questionable military service record, whereas Obama draws a bonafide war hero in McCain. Not just any war hero, but a Naval war hero from one the Navy’s most prominent families in history.
Virginia ultimately goes +5 or better for McCain.