In the final hours of the campaign season, with President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney so close in the polls at the state level that any problem in their ground operations may affect turnout enough to change the outcome, it is remarkable how much Virginia has fallen out of the media spotlight despite being the third most visited state of the campaign.
In the last couple of days, pundits across the nation have written or testified about how Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s efforts in states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota could put more states into play. Pieces have been published on how Ohio is moving further into Obama’s camp, and many are speculating about whether Florida is drifting from Romney’s control. Analysis of the situation in Virginia is nowhere to be seen, which is remarkable given how at 13 electoral votes Virginia is nearly as important as Ohio. If Obama carries only Virginia and Iowa among the swing states, he could lose Florida, Colorado, Ohio and New Hampshire and still win. And what do you know, he has been leading by 1-5 points in 11 polls released over the last week.
Why has the discussion been so limited? Part of the reason is probably related to the extremely contradictory polling there. Polls have given both Obama and Romney large leads at various points, and with such ambiguous data reporters can’t point to any trends that might allow them to analyze the situation to death.
A second reason could be the condition of the local Senate race. For a long time former governors Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R) were neck and neck, with all the attention that garners, only for Kaine to open up a lead over the last couple of weeks. With the top of the ticket in perpetual confusion and the lower ticket already determined, the media checked out for lack of a story.
Or, the media could simply be tired of it all just like the rest of us are. Romney and Obama visited the Virginia 88 times this year, and everyone is suffocated by the campaigns' advertisements that have blanketed northern and central Virginia. There is nothing new to say, and why talk about the Virginians you know when you can converse with the exotic citizens from the “flyover states” you don’t know? (although I’m sure that the conspiracy minded would argue that there is a deliberate culture of silence around the pandering both candidates are doing to attract voters who live off of the government’s payroll and defense contracts).
In any case, this media silence about Obama’s recent lead in the state is hiding perhaps the biggest development of the campaign, short of some miraculous last-minute change of public support in Florida. While many conservatives may fret about which way Ohio will be going tomorrow, the fact of the matter is that their problems may go deeper than that and Obama’s margin of victory will be much greater than expected.