By Amy Gardner and Laura Vozzella
The Washington Post
President Obama is clinging to a slender, four-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney in Virginia, as both sides ramp up already aggressive campaigns in the crucial battleground state, according to a new Washington Post poll.
Obama outpolled Romney, 51 to 47 percent, among likely Virginia voters, although he lost the clearer 52-to-44 percent advantage he held in mid-September.
Unlike in national polls, Obama still has an edge when Virginia voters are asked who better understands their financial problems, and he has not fallen behind a surging Romney on the question of who would better handle the national economy. Nor has Obama lost significant ground among self-identified independents in Virginia, as he has nationally.
The results underscore the importance of swing states like Virginia, with its 13 electoral votes, as both campaigns seek to secure a path to the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.
Perhaps the poll’s most striking finding is how many voters the two campaigns have contacted in Virginia this fall. A staggering 44 percent of likely voters polled say they’ve been contacted by the Obama campaign, 41 percent say the same of Romney’s. More than one in four of have heard from both campaigns.
Both campaigns have increased efforts to reach voters since last month, although fewer voters say they have been contacted by Obama’s team this time than four years ago. Romney’s organization, meanwhile, is outperforming Sen. John McCain’s in 2008.
In addition, as if to confirm both sides’ emphasis on early voting, 4 percent of likely voters say they have already voted by absentee ballot. An additional 41 percent say they are likely to do so, which would be a sharp jump from four years ago.
The numbers reflect the intensity of the two campaigns in Virginia. Obama has attended 19 political events in the state this year, including a rally in Richmond last week and another planned for Monday in Prince William County. Romney has attended 20 political events in the state since winning the Republican nomination, and he would have attended a 21st Sunday had it not been canceled in advance of Hurricane Sandy.