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Playing to win in Virginia

Three polls taken in June showed Barack Obama running even with John McCain in Virginia. No Democratic presidential candidate has carried Virginia since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Obama’s internal polling must also show Virginia to be close because the Obama campaign is adding 20 new offices in the state, bringing the total to 30. McCain, by contrast, has five offices. Part of the drive to open offices may be a function of the sheer number of Obama’s volunteers in the state. It’s said that he has 10,000 of them, and they need places to hang their hats.

Naturally, Obama is focusing on vote-rich and fertile Northern Virginia. But he is also opening offices in unfriendly territory, such as Lynchburg in the south and Harrisonburg in the west. I doubt that there will be much bang for the buck in these parts. Recall that Obama had plenty of offices in some of the states he lost decisively to Hillary Clinton during the primary season. And David “Mudcat” Sanders, a savvy Democratic strategist in Roanoke says that Obama is doing badly in his neck of the woods. But if Virginia is going to be close, then it makes sense to scrap for votes everywhere, provided the campaign has the resources. Apparently it has them.

I once thought that Obama’s efforts in Virginia might be intended merely to force McCain to devote resources to a state Republicans must win. But now it seems clear that Obama is playing to win.

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