Last summer, the Washington Post identified the counties and cities which then-Sen. Barack Obama would need to carry over Sen. John McCain if he was going to win the state in the fall. These counties and cities were mostly carried by Gov. Tim Kaine, Sen. Jim Webb and Sen. Mark Warner in 2005, 2006 and 2008, respectively. (The Post called them, “purple question marks”.) It was a thoughtful article and worth a re-read as we look to the fall with Sen. Creigh Deeds, Jody Wagner and Del. Steve Shannon on the ballot as our Democratic nominees.
On the list:
- Loudoun (Obama won it with 54% of the vote.)
- Prince William (Obama won it with 58% of the vote.)
- Rappahannock (McCain won it with 51% of the vote.)
- Caroline (Obama won it with 56% of the vote.)
- Henrico (Obama won it with 56% of the vote.)
- Nelson (Obama won it with 54% of the vote.)
- Montgomery (Obama won it with 52% of the vote.)
- Russell (McCain won it with 56% of the vote.)
- Suffolk City (Obama won it with 54% of the vote.)
- Virginia Beach (McCain won it with 50% of the vote.)
Of these localities, in the 2005 Attorney General’s race, Deeds won Rappahannock, Caroline, Nelson, Montgomery, Russell and Suffolk, while right wing Republican Bob McDonnell won the rest. My sense is Deeds will be able to carry those again this fall. But will McDonnell be able to beat Deeds in Loudoun, Prince William, Henrico like he did in 2005? Or did President Obama’s campaign leave a successful field organization in place there for Deeds to take away from votes that McDonnell is counting on? I think that’s doubtful.
And what about Virginia Beach? It’s Bob McDonnell’s home town, yes, but Virginia Beach is not the GOP stronghold it once was. Last fall, McCain barely carried it, while Democratic Rep. Glenn Nye managed a 52% win and Sen. Mark Warner managed a 63% win. Remember this time, Democrats will have Virginia Beach’s Jody Wagner on the ballot. I think that will help Deeds a great deal, but Congressman Nye, Sen. Warner, Sen. Webb and Gov. Kaine will need to spend a lot of time in Hampton Roads this summer to help the Democratic ticket.
I also expect to see a lot of campaigning for votes in the exurban counties of Loudoun and Prince William. My sense is that we will probably have President Obama make a return appearance at the Prince William County Fairgrounds before the election is over. That’s where Obama held the last rally of the general election before the polls opened on Election Day. For me, that night is etched in my mind as the moment that change was coming to Virginia and our country.
Look for Creigh Deeds and the Democratic ticket to ask the President to help them recapture that magic. (Perhaps that’s what they discussed in their call today.)
We shall see.