Since the 1952 general election, the state of Virginia has voted reliably Republican - former President Eisenhower won that election handily and Virginia voted red for the better part of 60 years. Lyndon B. Johnson put a minor dent in the trend in 1964 (a race in which he won 44 states), but aside from that, Virginia has swung GOP with distinct certainty.
That remained the case until the 2008 election, when shifting demographics, among other factors, allowed President Obama to steal a rare Democratic victory. Obama managed a seven-point victory that November over John McCain and the President hopes to see similar success in 2012.
But as campaigning extends into summer months, Virginia is forecast as a key battleground state. The swing has the two candidates, Obama and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, deadlocked at 50-50. Some polls lean Obama, others Romney, and Virginia's 13 Electoral College votes are up for grabs with no clear favorite.
As both candidates gear up for a tight race, upping their spending efforts and trying to expose each other's short-comings, eyes have turned to swing states, like Virginia, to see how far candidates are willing to go to gain an edge on these battlegrounds. Romney met with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in early May and has shown encouraging support to small business owners in the state in key legislation, while the Obama campaign has begun to set up offices throughout the state to try to kindle a grassroots movement.
While the first glimpse of Obama's strategy in Virginia kicked off in Richmond, it is a recent move that should have some Blacksburg locals taking political action early. This past Saturday, the Obama for America campaign opened an official branch here in Blacksburg at 712 N. Main St. with a kickoff event that saw impressive group of supporters in attendance.
I had a chance to speak with some of the event organizers, and the same talking points kept coming up - national headlines have recently shed a spotlight on campaign finance, and experts say it's pretty clear that Mitt Romney, along with the support from the Republican National Convention and conservative super PACs, will outspend the Obama campaign this year. As a result, it is becoming increasingly important for the Obama campaign to grab as much a foothold as it can in grassroots campaigning as it possibly can.