instagram photo by samrakhawaja
It is no surprise that President Obama and Mitt Romney are already campaigning heavily in Virginia. Along with a handful of other swing states, the Old Dominion is expected to hold the keys to the White House this year.
A Republican bastion in presidential races between 1968 and 2004, the increasingly liberal northern region just south and west of Washington, D.C., has swung the state towards the Democrats in 2008. But the state’s still influential conservative southern and far western parts create a competitive environment between Republican and Democratic candidates.
Although Obama won the Northern Virginia suburbs and the state’s urban regions in 2008, Bob McDonnell managed to turn the state Republican again with a landslide victory in his gubernatorial race just a year later. Not surprisingly, it has made McDonnell a top contender for the VP slot on the Republican presidential ticket with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney this year. If picked, McDonnell could very well swing the state into the Republican column.
The tight U.S. Senate race between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen, both former governors, will likely also influence the outcome of the presidential race. Kaine has closely aligned himself with Obama, while Allen, who is fighting to regain his lost Senate seat, has been a staunch critic of the president.
Geography: The battle to win Virginia will be decided for the candidates in the crucial geographical areas of Northern Virginia as well as Hampton Roads with Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
Hot issues: Among the top political issues in the state besides the state of the economy are education reform and women’s rights. Virginia voters are concerned about Gov. McDonnell’s plan to divert state sales tax revenue from public schools. Additionally, the recent national attention to the pre-abortion ultrasound bill in the state legislature has put supporters and critics on the fence.
Samra Khawaja is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, majoring in broadcast journalism with minors in political science and Spanish. She hopes to become a foreign correspondent.