Monday, September 29, 2008

Battleground analysis: Virginia

Having reviewed the battlegrounds overall it is helpful to consider them as they relate to some of the different elements of strategy on a case by case basis. Thus I'll be offering thoughts on what I consider the crucial states of VA, CO, OH, FL and NV. After the debates and with the close of early voting in mid-October we'll review the state of play in these key states once again.

2004 result
Bush: 1,716,959 votes
Kerry: 1,454,742 votes
Democratic deficit: 262,217 votes


The best Virginia poll in the Democratic Primary was Survey USA.
Current polling has it as follows:

New registrants
Team Obama aims to register 300,000 new voters in VA and as such intends to secure 135,000 bonus votes from voter registration operations (based upon a calculus of 80% of new registrants breaking for Obama and 75% of those new registrants actually voting).

Ground game
Ultimately, the trench warfare of the ground game need sto be executed near perfectly for Obama to win but with 28 field offices to McCain's 6 I feel confident of Team Obama's capabilities in this respect.


Per the well respected Wisconsin Advertising Project Obama outspends McCain in advertising by an astonishing $868,000 to $312,000 per week.

National Security for voters in Hampton Roads (big Veterans population), Economy elsewhere.

Candidate visits
Since the Virginia Primaries, Obama has visited the state 14 times whilst McCain has visited the state only 7 times.

Othe factors
Governor Tim Kaine (D), Secretary of State Katherine Hanley (D), Fmr. Gov. Mark Warner has a lock on the open VA Senate seat and a remarkable popularity rating.

Best VA coverage
The Field, 538, Washington Post, Raising Kaine, the National Review(!), The New Yorker


The 2004 network exit poll for Virginia revealed the following demographic breakdown of the VA electorate:

Female: 54%
Male: 46%
White: 72% (estimated 2008 decrease: 71%)
African American: 21% (estimated 2008 increase: 22%)
Hispanic: 3%
Other: 4%
Under 30: 17% (estimated 2008 increase: 18%)
31-64: 73% (estimated 2008 increase: 72%)
Over 65: 10%

Party ID

Party ID 2004:
Democratic: 39%
Republican: 35%
Independent: 26%

Party ID 2006:
Democratic: 36%
Republican: 39%
Independent: 26%

Party ID 2008 estimate:
Democratic: 38%
Republican: 37%
Independent: 25%

Obama strongholds: Northern Virginia
McCain strongholds: Southern Virginia
Key clash: Hampton Roads

Per Chuck Todd: "To see the difference between winning and losing in the Old Dominion, check out these numbers in the poll: Obama wins Northern Virginia by a 55%-37% margin, while McCain wins the crucial Hampton Roads area by 48%-44%. But in the recent Washington Post/ABC survey, which had Obama leading in Virginia by three points among likely voters, Obama was at 59% in Northern Virginia and was up 50%-45% in Hampton Roads. This tells you that if Obama does get to 60% in NoVa, he just might win the state even if he loses every other region. But Hampton Roads may very well be the ballgame in the state."

Virginia is one of Obama's best routes to 270 (certainly superior to Ohio). Winning will require Obama to dominate in the North with whilst curtailing his losses in the South through a combination of youth and minority tunout and a heavy emphasis on newly registered voters and early voting. Tom Jensen of PPP reckons that such a scenario could deliver an Obama victory in VA with just 39% of the white vote. As such Jensen posits, Obama only needs 1/3rd of undecided voters to break his way whilst demographics and GOTV carries him to victory.

After the voter registration deadline (Oct 4) I'll post an update on VA's state of play.

This is a Toss-up state liekly to the end but if you put me ona razor sharp fence I'd say: Obama.

1 comment:

DCDuck said...

FWIW, I actually feel pretty good about Virginia. I think that Northern VA is going to break very, very strongly for Obama, over 60%, and this is going to carry him to victory in the state. Also, agreed, VA is a much better path to 270 than OH.