As Goes Virginia
Before changing their plans due to hurricane Issac, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were planning to attend their first post-convention campaign rally in Virginia with Senate candidate George Allen. It is too bad because having all three of them campaigning together in Virginia would have been almost poetic, since like it or not, all three are basically running on a single ticket in the state which could easily decide everything this November.
The Senate – Presidential race has turned out to be a remarkably party line affair in Virginia. Past traditions of ticket splitting have almost completely disappeared this cycle. The number of voters planning to vote a ballot for both Mitt Romney and Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine is extremely small.
Unlike in most highly contested Senate races this year (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Montana and Missouri) where there is a huge divergence between how the Democrat is doing and how Obama is polling, in Virginia polling for the Presidential and Senate contests are almost identical. The Real Clear Politics polling average for the Presidential race in Virginia has Obama with a 0.6 point lead. The average for the Virginia Senate race is also 0.6 point lead for Kaine.
It is likely both contests will come down to an issue of turnout and how undecideds breaks in the final days. Slightly higher than average Democratic turnout will likely mean Obama and Kaine carry the state, while high GOP turnouts will probably mean they both lose. Given how closely the polling matches, the chance of only one them winning while the other loses, though, appears remote. With both races in the state basically tied, it could break in either direction
In the Presidential race Virginia will likely be decisive. While Obama could potential get to 270 even if he loses Virginia, it would be extremely difficult for Romney to win the Presidency without it. Similarly, Virginia maybe the most important closest race in determining who controls the Senate. Democrats could theoretically hold on to the chamber even if Kaine loses, but it becomes extremely difficult for for the GOP to net the four seats they need without Allen winning, especially after what happened with Todd Akin in Missouri.
On election night the state I’m going to be watch is Virginia, which fortunately will be one of the first states to report. How Virginia goes will probably tell us who has won the evening.