Virginia: (SurveyUSA 9/5 - 9/7)
Virginia is a really simple state to analyze in terms of national races. The Democrat starts out with about 45 percent and the Republican starts out with about 48. The past decade has seen close races regardless of the opponents. Obama will excite a higher black vote and liberal vote in Northern Virginia. The race boils down to the rural culturally conservative voters who have been willing to vote Democratic for governor (Warner, Kaine) and U.S. Senate (Webb), but are more comfortable with the Republicans. Obama must suppress this vote by not angering them or scaring them about his possible presidency. If the rural vote is big, Obama loses. If it is smaller in relation to the turnout elsewhere, you'll hear stories about how Obama appealed to the Reagan Democrats and the Nascar crowd. True. But the real story will be that many didn't turn out to vote for McCain. By picking Palin and highlighting his military roots, McCain is in good shape to hold Obama off by a few points in the state right now. But in an Obama surge which should be coming soon, Virginia will be the first red state to go.