When Mitt Romney stopped in Virginia last week he said, “This may well be the state [that] decides who the next president is.”
At least he understands the stakes.
Barring a collapse by either Romney or President Obama, the popular vote will be close. Major polls are all within the margin of error and likely to stay that way.
But it’s not about the popular vote. It’s about the Electoral College – and there, President Obama has a decided advantage right now.
Almost all prognosticators agree the election is largely over in at least 35 states. The Wasington Post's Chris Cillizza says it’s largely decided in 43.
That’s what makes Virginia so important. If President Obama wins the Old Dominion again, it would mean he could lose Ohio or Florida – perhaps even both – and still win re-election. Romney’s opportunities to flip a state and make up ground – Michigan and Pennsylvania – are longer shots. He must have Virginia to win.
It won’t be easy because both sides expect to win yet know it will require tremendous resources to do so.