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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

Battleground Virginia

This Oct. 10 file photo shows Virginia voter Harry Donahue waiting to get his hair cut at the 100 year old Farmville Barber Shop in Farmville, Va.(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

November 2, 2012

Virginia has proven to be a contentious swing state this election cycle. The Old Dominion has become a campaign focal point for two key demographics: college-educated females and increasingly influential Asian voters. Another narrative in the state is a comeback story. Republican George Allen, who fell from political grace six years ago, has emerged humbled and poised for a second chance.

Below, find National Journal dispatches from the state.

Virginia and the War on Women


If Virginia is ground zero for the war on women in the 2012 campaign, the Walmart Supercenter off Route 15 in Leesburg could be considered hallowed ground.

Beth Reinhard reports:

The real war on women is for their votes.

In Virginia and other battleground states, the most open-minded and coveted sliver of the electorate skews female. Women made up 54 percent of Virginia’s electorate in the 2008 election, 1 point more than they did nationally, according to exit polls. Obama ran 7 points ahead of Republican John McCain among women in this state and nationwide, helping him to become the first Democrat since 1964 to carry the Old Dominion and sending him to the White House.

The Power of the Asian Vote Is Growing

Asian-American voters and would-be politicians are gaining influence in Virginia and elsewhere as their population grows.

Shane Goldmacher reports

Long an ignored slice of the electorate, Asian-Americans are increasingly flexing their political muscles this year, as candidates and as constituents. Asians, not Hispanics, were America’s fastest-growing minority group in the last decade, and many now live far beyond the traditional enclaves of California and Hawaii. As a result, they are being courted and catered to in key battlegrounds such as Nevada and Virginia. Asian-Americans hold the governorships in the seemingly unlikely states of Louisiana and South Carolina. They are running for Congress in record numbers in 2012.

And, demographers and political strategists agree, it’s just the beginning.

The Resurrection of George Allen

After a dramatic fall from grace six years ago, a humbled George Allen has returned to the trail, seeking his old Senate seat. But the specter of his “macaca” moment is never far away.

Shane Goldmacher reports:

Six years ago, much of Allen’s tattered image was in need of reforming, his tobacco dipping the least of his problems. He had just lost a bitter reelection campaign that had transformed him from a vaunted presidential hopeful into an unemployed politician—and one caricatured as a racist bully at that. It was a dismal loss punctuated by his use of the word “macaca,” the obscure ethnic slur heard around the political world.

Now, as Allen tries to mount a historic comeback—only two ousted U.S. senators in the past 50 years have returned to that august body after losing reelection—it’s not just the tobacco that’s missing.

Will College Students Vote at All?

Younger Americans shaped by recession and Washington gridlock are having trouble getting excited about the presidential candidates.

Naureen Khan reports from James Madison University:

A recent poll commissioned by Harvard’s Institute of Politics underscores Cranston’s sentiments: Nearly three-quarters of young people say they are not politically active, and four in 10 say it doesn’t matter who is elected because Washington is broken. A quarter believe that neither candidate represents their views. ...
The good news for Obama is he led Romney 55 percent to 39 percent in the Harvard survey. The bad news: Only 48 percent in that age group said they would “definitely” vote.

North Carolina and Virginia Battlegrounds Are Here to Stay

The two states are becoming more Middle Atlantic than Southern in their demographics and politics.

Naureen Khan reports:

President Obama's twin Dixie victories were not entirely necessary for his win in 2008, but they opened a new era of competitive politics in the once-deep-red South and represented a milestone in the states’ racially fraught histories—two former slave-holding states helping to elevate the nation’s first African-American president. The Tar Heel State had not gone for a Democrat since Southerner Jimmy Carter won in 1976. Virginia’s history as a Republican stronghold stretched back even further, to 1964 when the Old Dominion tipped to Lyndon Johnson.

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