OPINION / Moon-howler: Prince William seen as key battleground in 2012 election
WOODBRIDGE, Va. –
In June 2008, Democrat Barack Obama kicked off his general election campaign at the Nissan Pavilion in western Prince William County.
Five months later, he closed his presidential campaign with an election-eve rally that drew about 85,000 people to the Prince William County Fairgrounds.
This Friday, Obama returns to the area, holding a re-election rally in Manassas, where GOP nominee Mitt Romney campaigned Aug. 11 with his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan.
Prince William, a booming Northern Virginia exurb of 413,000 residents, is home to some of Virginia’s most prominent conservatives, including Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors. Yet Obama carried Prince William by 25,000 votes in 2008, becoming the first Democratic nominee to win the county — and the state — in 44 years.
The political cross-currents that made that possible — affluence, diversity, cul-de-sacs sprouting where there were once country fields — make Virginia’s second-largest county a key battleground in this pivotal swing state.
“If you win Fairfax County and Prince William you’re almost guaranteed to tilt the state,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-11th.
As for Romney, “He’s got to take Prince William,” says Connolly’s predecessor, Republican Thomas M. Davis III. “He doesn’t need it by a lot, but he needs to carry Prince William.”
For decades, Prince William and Loudoun County, its neighbor to the north, were outside-the-Beltway behemoths that gave Republicans something of a firewall in presidential elections.
In 2008, that firewall collapsed. Obama swept all of Northern Virginia, winning Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park.
Collectively, Obama won Northern Virginia by 234,079 votes. In the rest of the state combined, he edged Republican John McCain by 448 votes.
If I were sitting here as a betting woman and if I was asked who will carry PWC, I would probably say Romney. Why? Because as an Obama supporter, I feel like I have jackals circling the wagons. Maybe if I were quiet and sheepish about it, I would view things differently.
I don’t have any yard signs out and my husband goes off quietly to make his phone calls for Tim Kaine. Maybe we are under too much aof a microscope to be able to see ourselves as others see us.
So where will Obama be this Friday? I have no idea. I have tried to find out but no one is saying. It sounds like a fairly big event. Last time it was at the Fairgrounds. I can’t picture 85,000 coming into the region. That’s how many folks were here the night before the election in 2008. Who will attend this time? Will the crowds be so enthused? Is the guild off the lily? Who foots the bill for this close encounter with the election? Did the City of Manassas ever get reimbursed for its costs when Romney came to town?
I am still recoiling from reading that PWC is the home of Bob Marshall, Ken Cuccinelli and Corey Stewart. That’s enough to make you put your house on the market and move. Of the three, I’ll take Corey hands down!
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