Presidential Race: President Obama wins 51 to 48 percent.
Senate Race: Tim Kaine defeats George Allen 52 to 48 percent.
Virginia and its 13 electoral votes are in play this year and it’s a crucial battleground state. While ranked the 27th most conservative state and 0.97 percent more Republican than the national average, the population is trending Democrat in presidential elections.
In recent days, most Virginia polls have Barack Obama gaining on Mitt Romney, but only by a hair. While Ohio has received a lot of media attention in the race for president, Virginia may decide the presidential election along with control of the U.S. Senate.
For the 2012 general election, the Virginia voter registration deadline was October 15. The state allows in-person ballot casting ahead of Election Day – but state officials call it in-person absentee voting and voters need an excuse to do it. This year, early voting began Sept. 21. Certain individuals can vote by mail. Ballots must be sealed in the official envelope provided in the presence of a witness and be sent or hand delivered to the local voter registration office.
From 1952 through 2004, Virginia was reliably Republican. The only exception was the landslide victory of Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater in 1964. Republican presidential candidates won 10 of the last 11 elections. Changing demographics in recent years put the state in play and it was won by Barack Obama, 53 percent to 46 percent over John McCain, in the 2008 Presidential race. Another win by President Obama in Virginia could prove devastating for Mitt Romney in the electoral battle.
Virginia is home to a growing number of younger, well-educated voters flocking to northern Virginia where Obama polls high. In 2008, Obama carried the metropolitan Washington area of northern Virginia by 260,000 votes, about the same margin as he carried the entire state.
Women’s issues, especially the debate over birth-control coverage by health insurance, play a disproportionate role in the northern part of the state, with its bustling suburbs. The rural economy, social issues and military policy are important in the more traditionally conservative parts of Virginia.
Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell won election in 2009. Since then Virginia Republicans have made gains in the U.S. House and the state legislature. Both McDonnell and the legislature drew heavy criticism after passage of controversial bills, including one that forced women to get an ultrasound before having an abortion and required doctors to ask whether she wants to hear the fetal heartbeat and obtain a printed image of the fetus. The legislation was later watered down.
Virginia is allotted 11 congressional districts. It’s unchanged due to reapportionment after the 2010 census. The Republican Party holds eight of the 11 congressional seats. In the 7th Congressional District, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is being challenged by Wayne Powell, a retired Army colonel and Chesterfield County lawyer. In a recent poll, just 25 percent of Virginians had a favorable view of the House leader although that number is higher in Cantor’s own district.
Several states including Virginia have enacted new voter ID laws yet numerous studies have found that in-person voter fraud is virtually non-existent. The laws do suppress voter turnout among citizens who lean toward the Democratic Party, such as minority voters, students, and the elderly who are not wealthy.
Meanwhile, real election fraud has been ignored by state officials. As an example, in Virginia this month, Colin Small was caught discarding voter registration forms in a trash bin behind a store in Harrisonburg yet Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican, refused to start a statewide investigation into the case. While Cuccinelli reversed his decision this week, it was only under pressure after photos were published of him with Small at the Virginia GOP Victory office. Critics believe Cuccinelli will bury the investigation after the election. A senior Republican official has told the Washington Post that Cuccinelli will run for governor in 2013.
Small was employed by Strategic Allied Consulting, a company formed this summer at the request of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and headed by Nathan Sproul, a veteran GOP operative. Sproul’s firm was under contract to the Republican Party of Virginia.
Local prosecutors have charged Small with destruction of voter registration applications, disclosure of voter registration applications and obstruction of justice. On his LinkedIn profile, Small is listed as a “Grassroots Field Director” for the Republican National Committee.
The firm was supposedly fired by the RNC and state Republican parties last month after fraudulent registration forms were discovered by various election officials. The arrest of Small and known activities by other employees reveal that the supposed firing was a deception.
On Monday, U.S. Reps. Gerald Connolly, James P. Moran Jr. and Bobby Scott, all Democrats, signed a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder seeking a nationwide investigation. Spraul’s company operates in several states for the Republican Party and several have uncovered voter fraud.
Nathan Sproul, accused of electoral misconduct in past elections, shares a Virginia headquarters address with American Crossroads, a super PAC founded by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, a senior advisor to Mitt Romney. Sproul is also a paid political consultant for Mitt Romney’s campaign.
Virginia Senate Race
Sen. Jim Webb did not to seek reelection this year. Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine are seeking to replace him. Both candidates have records – Kaine as governor, Allen as governor and senator. The outcome may be crucial in determining which political party controls the Senate.
If elected, Allen has pledged to work to overturn the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s health care overhaul. He says repealing the law would save the nation $1 trillion over 10 years – a claim that has been debunked by every independent fact-checking service including PolitiFact Virginia who rated the claim as “False.”
Kaine has claimed that Mitt Romney and George Allen “would overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to end safe, legal abortion even in cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is at risk.” In 2003, Allen voted against the Harkin Amendment, which asked U.S. senators to affirm that the Supreme Court decision “should not be overturned.” When asked directly about his view, Allen has refused to answer.
In 2003, Allen was on the losing side in the U.S. Senate to slow the rate of Pell Grants. The non-partisan GAO said the change would have dropped 92,000 students from eligibility. Allen served in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2007.
Allen favors raising the eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security. For Medicare, Allen has been a strong supporter of a voucher program for those now under 55 although his position has changed since seeking his old job back.
Besides President Barack Obama, Kaine has had the biggest number of super political action committee TV ads opposing his campaign.
WeAskAmerica released a poll Nov. 2 and George Allen and Tim Kaine’are tied at 50 percent each. A CBS / NYT / Quinnipiac poll released Oct. 31 has Kaine leading by a margin of 50 to 46 percent. A poll by Gravis Marketing released Oct. 27 has George Allen at 48 percent to Tim Kaine’s 46 percent.
2012 Presidential Election
Candidates on the 2012 Virginia presidential ballot are:
Constitution Party: Virgil Goode / Jim Clymer
Democratic Party: Barack Obama / Joseph Biden
Green Party: Jill Stein / Cheri Honkala
Libertarian Party: Gary Johnson / James P. Gray
Republican Party: Mitt Romney / Paul Ryan
|11/2||WeAskAmerica||Obama 49, Romney 48||Obama +1|
|10/31||CBS / NYT / Quinnipiac||Obama 49, Romney 47||Obama +2|
|10/27||Washington Post||Obama 51, Romney 47||Obama +4|
|10/27||Gravis Marketing||Romney 48, Obama 48||Even|
|10/26||Purple State Strategy||Romney 47, Obama 47||Even|
|10/25||Public Policy Polling||Obama 51, Romney 46||Obama +5|
|10/24||U of V / George Mason||Romney 46, Obama 45||Romney +1|
|10/19||Rasmussen Reports||Romney 50, Obama 47||Romney +3|