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For Virginians, Barack Obama fits just right (for now)

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President Obama’s current lead over Mitt Romney in a new Washington Post poll in Virginia is due in large part to a belief that the incumbent’s ideology is a better fit for the state than that of the former Massachusetts governor.

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., left, listen as Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell speaks at a campaign stop in Portsmouth, Va., Thursday, May 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Virginian-Pilot,Ross Taylor)

A majority of Virginians — 52 percent — say that “Barack Obama’s views on most issues are just about right” as compared to 37 percent who say the same of Romney’s views. Among electorally critical independents, 52 percent say Obama’s views were about right as opposed to just 34 percent who say the same of Romney. Just look at this chart.

(Worth noting: Among all Virginia registered voters, the gap is slightly more narrow; 49 percent of registered voters in Virginia say that Obama’s views on issues are “just about right” while 39 percent of registered voters say the same of Romney.)

Why does this data point matter? Because lots (and lots) of people make up their minds about who they will vote for based on which candidate they think best understands them.

And, at the moment, a majority of Virginians believe that Obama is closer to how they think about issues than is Romney. That matters — big time.

There are two reasons why that’s the case — and why it’s worth taking the Post poll results with a grain of salt.

First, Romney has been hurt across the board by the protracted Republican presidential primary which, in the final few months of the campaign, wound up focusing on contraception and other social issues that played into a preconceived notion among many independents that the GOP was beholden to their social conservative wing. (Nearly four in ten women think Romney’s views are “too conservative” for them.)

Second, the Virginia presidential primary was a non-event as only Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul spent any time in the state. (Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum did not qualify for the ballot.) That means that Romney has not been properly introduced — and by that we mean through a slew of positive television ads — to many voters in the Commonwealth.

Luckily for Romney, both of those problems can be solved. He has spent the last two days in the state and on Thursday campaigned with Bob McDonnell, the popular governor of the Commonwealth. (Sidebar: Almost seven in ten Virginia registered voters said putting McDonnell on the ticket wouldn’t make much difference in their vote for president this fall.)

The more time Romney spends in the state and the more money he and his campaign (and various super PACs) spend on TV ads promoting him as a centrist problem solver and the President as a liberal partisan, the more likely it will be that he can close this “thinks like you” gap.

But the gap is real. And to win — in Virginia and elsewhere — Romney has narrow it.

Warren fights back: After struggling for a week to respond to the campaign of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on questions about her Native American heritage, Elizabeth Warren (D) is pushing back.

Brown’s campaign has suggested the Harvard Law professor her distant Native American heritage (Warren’s great-great-great grandmother was reportedly Cherokee) to get ahead in academia.

In an interview with WBZ-TV, Warren emphasized her opponent’s ties to Wall Street and asked, “maybe the appropriate person to ask those questions of is Scott Brown. What does he think it takes for a woman to be qualified?”

Warren also increased her television ad buy $800,000, meaning there’s $1.6 million behind her positive spot. Brown is not yet on the air.

Meanwhile, Harvard won’t say if Warren is listed as a minority professor.

Ads more negative: Campaign ads have gotten more negative — way more negative — this cycle, a new study from Wesleyan Media Project finds. Seventy percent of TV spots so far have been negative, compared to 9 percent in 2008.

The major factor is super PACs, which can air negative ads while letting candidates keep their hands clean. At this point in the last election, 97 percent of ads came directly from candidates. So far in this cycle, 60 percent of ads have come from interest groups.

General election advertising so far has favored the GOP, with 33,420 anti-Obama, pro-Republican spots aired compared to 25,516 anti-Republican, pro-Obama spots aired. The Obama campaign is competing on air with pro-GOP super PACs in in Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, and Ohio.

FixBits:

GOP polling echoes Democratic polling in Arizona’s Senate race: Rep. Jeff Flake (R) leads former surgeon general Richard Carmona (D) by four points.

The Chen Guangcheng case has given Romney an opening on foreign policy.

Jesse Kelly, the Republican nominee to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), has changed his mind about entitlements.

A North Carolina paper pulls its endorsement of a candidate after he declared himself suspicious about Obama’s birth certificate.

Must Reads:

Obama campaign tailors message for key states and voters - Michael A. Memoli, Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, LA Times

What we might learn -- but can’t know -- from a candidate’s wife and girlfriends - Melinda Henneberger, Washington Post

4 Years Later, Race Is Still Issue for Some Voters - Sabrina Tavernise, NYT

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