Wednesday, October 22, 2008

the New Dominion

arch pollster Larry Sabato thinks VA is likely to go for Obama this year. That's probably true, but his insistence that it will be closer than the polls is, in my mind, mere denial of the new reality. Virginia has been the primary beneficiary of a massive influx of young, upwardly mobile and socially liberal professionals to the DC area, causing a major demographic shift over the last 10 years. It's had 2 good Democratic governors and 1 really shitty Republican one since 2000. The best of those Democrats, Mark Warner, is running against that bad Republican for Senate and is cleaning his clock by over 20 points. VA has had a flood of new voter registrants, and they are overwhelmingly Democrats. Democrats have been gaining ground at every level of government there, including, again, 2 straight Democratic governors, a Senate seat in '06 (against a very popular incumbent and former governor, no less), and now the second Senate seat. These fact-free assertions about "people who know Virginia" aside, there is no evidence-based reason to suspect that polling in VA is off across the board.

Which is really, really bad news for McCain:

The better news for McCain: Jonathan Martin asserts in this same article that "there is no feasible path to the White House for McCain without Virginia." Also not true: John McCain could very possibly sweep the battleground states of NC, MT, ND (I can't believe I just listed those), CO, NV, WV, MO, FL, and OH, but lose lost causes NM, IA, and VA, and pick off New Hampshire. In such a scenario, McCain would squeeze into the Oval Office with 273 EVs. In fact, he could lose North Dakota and get exactly 270.

This is why I keep telling people that VA is not one of McCain's make-or-break states. It's a nice feather in our hat, but he can win without it. There are several others, however, that McCain cannot live without, such as perennial battlegrounds Ohio and Florida, as well as North Carolina (because Obama can't win NC without also taking VA). If McCain fails to sweep all three, you can pop the champagne, wait for the concession call, and start tracking the Senate races instead. There is no hope.

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