Virginia, like Ohio and Florida, is particularly critical for Romney, whose path to the White House would be difficult without the state’s electoral votes.
Both candidates see a path to victory in Virginia.
Obama is counting heavily on his advantages among African American, Latino and female voters, and on his support in Washington’s inner suburbs and the urban centers of Richmond and Hampton Roads.
Romney, meanwhile, hopes to gin up big turnouts in Republican-leaning places such as Chesterfield, near Richmond, and Virginia Beach, as well as in conservative, coal-friendly strongholds in southwest Virginia. The new polling numbers suggest that Romney might be succeeding; he leads overwhelmingly (60 percent to 39 percent) in the central and western regions of the state, much improved from a modest seven-point advantage in mid-September.
“From an economic standpoint, I think the national debt is the key issue,” said Donald Lewis of Salem, in southwest Virginia.
Lewis, a retired middle manager from Norfolk Southern Railway, said he will vote for Romney because he thinks the Republican would do a better job of straightening out the nation’s finances. “We have to concentrate on getting our budget balanced and our debt under control before it turns into riots like in Europe,” he said.
The nation’s fiscal health is one of the few subjects on which Romney holds an advantage over Obama in Virginia.
In Virginia, unlike in national polls, the Republican does not have a clear lead on the economy, and he continues to trail on other issues. Romney trails by 10 points on the question of who would better manage the future of Medicare; by 13 points on who better understands the economic problems of Americans; and by 12 points on who is better equipped to manage international affairs.
Obama also enjoys a wide lead (55 percent to 35 percent) on the question of social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.