- Published on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 23:19
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It’s been suggested that during the remainder of the 2012 election cycle that we Virginians will watch more political ads on television than we ever have before. That’s hardly something to look forward to, but TV ads, and their sheer quantity, in such a highly competitive election, are likely to be overwhelming.
Of course, we’ve had competitive elections before. That’s nothing new. But this year, we have the Presidential race, and both Romney and Obama consider Virginia a must win, and a Senate race, which is, arguably, even more competitive. None of these campaigns will lack for money. Indeed, campaign spending in the Commonwealth could well set a record with most of the battle, as it so often is, being fought on the airwaves.
It’s not unreasonable to expect that by late October almost every advertisement will be a political ad. That’s kind of a scary thought, and the notion of hoping that the ad break might include, just as a diversion from politics, a deodorant commercial or perhaps even an ad for an injury attorney, is just a bit disquieting.
The Obama campaign has already set up a dozen field offices in the Commonwealth and plans to open that many more. Romney, though a little behind (he had to win the nomination first) is expected to make up ground quickly. The emphasis for the Democrats will be to recharge their base of supporters from 2008, while at the same time, using aggressive voter identification techniques, to find new supporters. Obama, more so than any of his predecessors, through e-mails, websites, and events, has worked on keeping his core of activists together.
One of the most current polls of the Virginia race, a survey of 1,200 likely registered voters conducted by Quinnipiac University shows Romney at 42% and President Obama at 47%. Remarkably, Virginia, still, a red state by nature, is showing better polling numbers for the President than other swing states. Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and even Florida, are much closer. One of the reasons for Virginia’s rather surprising level of support for Obama is the economy. I know, what did I just say? Yes, I know that sounds a bit cockeyed, but while the economic news is bad nationally and the same can be said for most swings states, in Virginia, fueled heavily by Federal spending, the economy has been steadily improving.
Unemployment is down and consumer spending has been steadily increasing. While Romney’s message on the economy will find many followers in Virginia the argument isn’t likely to be as personal as it will be in other states.
Just how the Senate race will align with the national race, since it will be going on at the same time, is another question. According to that same Quinnipiac University poll, George Allen, now the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, and Tim Kaine, the Democratic nominee, are virtually tied. Kaine has 44% and Allen, 43%. Other polls, while varying a little, show a race just as tight. That means the campaign from now on out will be intense. And the themes are predictable.
Allen is going to paint Tim Kaine and President Obama with the same brush and keep hammering on the point that Kaine is too liberal for Virginia. And no doubt, he’ll try to impugn Kaine’s service as governor. Of course, at the same time, if the need requires, Kaine will have his own supply handy, whether it’s finding some embarrassing votes from Allen’s term in the Senate or portraying him as a tool of GOP social conservatives.
And who knows, maybe someone, probably not Kaine, but perhaps a Democratic leaning website or other outlet, will resurrect Allen’s Maccaca moment from 2006. This unfortunate comment, which all but sank Allen’s 2006 campaign, is still a label that he wishes would go away.
Some have said that this race will depend heavily on the coattails of the national candidates. It might, though I suspect more voters than expected will split their ticket. But coattails or not, the fight for Virginia’s electoral votes, and the race for the Senate will be separate races and they will each be fought tooth and nail.