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Chris Graham: How will Romney/Ryan Augusta event play out?

It would seem at first glance that the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan event scheduled for Thursday at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville would be so much overkill given the recent voting history in Greater Augusta.

Barack Obama, en route to winning Virginia in the 2008 presidential election, was roundly trounced in Greater Augusta (Augusta County and the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro) by Republican nominee John McCain. McCain won the region with 62 percent of the vote, with Obama trailing far behind with 37 percent.

At best, then, it would seem that all the Romney campaign can hope for is to run up the score a bit here in the Central Shenandoah Valley to try to counter expected big majorities for Obama in Northern Virginia.

A big issue there – there’s a lot of more of them (i.e. people in Northern Virginia) than there are of us (i.e. Valley voters).

Obama won Virginia by 234,000 votes in 2008. McCain’s big majorities in Greater Augusta in 2008 moved the needle in his direction by 15,000 votes. In an election with voter turnout just shy of 75 percent, there’s not much more movement in that needle.

And you wouldn’t know this to look at the numbers, but the Obama campaign was actually quite pleased with its showing in Greater Augusta in 2008. The 37 percent showing for Obama was an eight-point improvement over what John Kerry was able to pull in the region in 2004, translating to a 5,600-vote swing in Obama’s favor, or about 2 percent of his eventual margin of victory statewide.

Not bad for a liberal in a part of the state where even the uberpopular Mark Warner has a hard time.

It could be argued by Republicans that the upcoming Romney/Ryan event is aimed at pushing the voting trends here back to 2004 levels and taking away a small but still noticeable voting bloc from Obama. That argument wouldn’t hold much water given the continued efforts of local Democrats in concert with the Obama campaign to build upon the ground game that was the basis of those 2008 gains.

So maybe we can concede that the renewed push of Republicans in Greater Augusta gets them a couple of thousand of extra votes here. But don’t be surprised to see Democrats at least hold in terms of their 2008 raw numbers here and perhaps even improve upon them slightly.

The election will still be won or lost in Northern Virginia. In the meantime, at least, local Republicans get the chance to see and feel for themselves what it’s like to attend a live campaign rally.

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Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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