One would would think that Virginia, a purple state trending blue, would be an exciting place this year, especially with Tim Kaine, its former governor-turned-US senator, on the ballot as the Democratic nominee for vice-president.
Having locked down early for Hillary Clinton and Kaine polls have consistently shown the Democrats leading Donald Trump and Mike Pence Virginia is, as it used to be in presidential elections: quiet and predictable.
Until Barack Obama carried the state in 2008 and again in 2012, Virginia had been reliably Republican. From 1968 until 2004, the state tipped to the GOP, requiring little money, effort or time by the partys national candidates. Democrats rarely bothered to contest Virginia.
But rapid population growth and demographic diversification, including an Asian and Hispanic presence that was virtually unheard of two decades ago, have made Virginia fertile ground for Democrats, particularly in high-turnout presidential elections.
That, combined with distaste for Trump, especially in the vote-rich, northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC, firmed up the state for Clinton even before her nomination in July. With Virginia, at least for this cycle, anything but the battleground it was four or eight years ago, Clinton has been free to steer money and staff to other swing states.
Clinton was last in Virginia in June. Kaine has made a handful of trips to his hometown, Richmond, for among other reasons to collect his dry-cleaning.
Also, local television airwaves have been blissfully free of Clinton commercials. Indeed, she did not place a single advertisement with a Virginia station in September and October. Trumps buys in Virginia have been modest, largely a reflection of his fundraising disadvantage.
But all good things must come to an end.
Clintons final dash to the election marred by the renewed email scandal, her strategists decided she had no choice but to advertise in Virginia. Barely a week before balloting, her campaign disclosed a small buy, just enough to reassure the Democratic grassroots and compel a lot of other voters to change the channel.
Jeff E Schapiro, politics columnist, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch
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