Talking to Virginia’s delegates at both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention, one would never think the state is considered the political battleground that most election maps consider it to be — including on the NPR/NewsHour map.
Even as the candidates lavish campaign time and money on the state at a level Virginias haven’t seen in years, both parties’ delegates — people that are sent to represent their state at the national conventions — are calculating that they will win Virginia’s 13 Electoral College votes in November.
The NewsHour asked delegates at both conventions for their predictions and is exploring Virginia’s role as a battleground in a series of reports, the first of which examined the population and economic boom in the state’s northern regions.
Republican John Mardsen, a lawyer from Prince Edward County, was confident that despite recent Democratic gains in statewide offices, the presidential vote would still go to Republican Sen. John McCain.
By contrast, Democratic delegate Elizabeth Chitwood, said she has seen a change in the state’s political leanings since the last presidential election, when Virginians voted to re-elect President Bush.
Another Democrat, Mamie Locke, said that Sen. Barack Obama had energized a new part of the state’s electorate.
Wendell Walker, a Republican delegate in St. Paul, associated a similar enthusiasm jump with McCain’s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate, saying she would “bridge the gap” in the Republican Party’s electorate.