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Commonwealth favors Obama, Kaine

Center for Politics suggests Virginians harbor stronger liberal tendencies

Growing liberal tendencies in Virginia mean the state may no longer be a toss-up in the upcoming presidential and senate elections, according to predictions in Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato’s most recent Crystal Ball report.

“It’s a polarized era,” Center for Politics spokesperson Kyle Kondik said. “Presumably most [Barack] Obama voters will also vote [Democratic Senate candidate Tim] Kaine and vice versa.”

An increase in the number of minority groups coming to work for the government in Virginia is contributing to the state’s growing distance from its former red tendencies, Kondik said. “Republicans need to get better with non-white voters — if they don’t they’ll start to lose Virginia,” he said.

According to Sabato’s Crystal Ball website, currently President Obama leads Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney by 4.5 percentage points in Virginia, and Kaine holds a 4.4 point advantage ahead of Republican senate candidate George Allen. Crystal Ball predictions draw from media reporting, the group’s own judgments and polling statistics from RealClearPolitics, which averages an estimated 30 polls per race of varying sizes and margins of error.

With less than forty days until the election, Kondik said polls are becoming more likely to be able to predict the outcome of the race in November. “But that doesn’t mean that we’re prepared to say that definitively Obama’s going to win,” he said.

University Democrats President James Schwab said the group is not going to ease up on its campaign efforts, despite Sabato’s prediction. “I think the main thing we’re taking from this is the motivation that we can take Virginia and we want to take Virginia,” Schwab said. “We’re maintaining our campaign efforts — phone banks, voter registrations and all the ways we can contribute — and we’re going to keep ramping it up until the election.”

College Republicans Chairman Matt Wertman, however, doubted the significance of the Crystal Ball prediction, especially with the presidential debates yet to occur, the first of which is this Wednesday.

“We’re not scared at all,” he said. “There are [37] days left in the election and there’s a lot to happen between now and then. There are the debates and in those debates it will become pretty clear who will be the best guy for turning around the economy.”

But a major shift in favor of the Republican Party would be unlikely unless Obama commits a political gaffe between now and November, Kondik said.

Kondik predicted Romney would need to steal an additional 22 electoral votes from Obama, even if he were to win New Hampshire, Florida and Colorado, the remaining toss-up states.

“Of all the states at least leaning toward Obama in our ratings, the president’s smallest polling lead, based on the RealClearPolitics average from mid-day on Wednesday, was four points in Iowa,” according to Thursday’s Crystal Ball prediction.