The limited competition made the contest one of Super Tuesday’s least suspenseful, but Virginia’s political significance will be demonstrated in the presidential contest in November.
Fighting a coast-to-coast battle against multiple opponents, Romney has barely campaigned in Virginia and has almost no infrastructure in place.
President Obama’s reelection operation, by contrast, has five offices and more than a dozen paid staff members in the state, with more on the way. Obama also has made frequent trips across the Potomac River; he will be back in the state Friday to deliver a speech on the economy in Prince George County, south of Richmond.
“There’s the irony,” said Mark Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University. “Although [Romney] got an easy slate of delegates, probably it would have been better for his campaign in the long run to have had a competitive race in Virginia.”
Yet with Virginia expected to receive so much national attention — former governors George Allen (R) and Timothy M. Kaine (D) are likely to face each other in a marquee U.S. Senate race — Republicans say their nominee will be ready when the time comes.
“President Obama has a stronger and more rapidly growing organization in the state, but that’s to be expected, given that we’re still in a nomination battle,” said Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), Romney’s Virginia campaign chairman.
Bolling said the support of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) gives Romney immediate access to their campaign organizations. And if Romney wins the nomination, he will inherit control of the four “victory” offices that remain open after being established by the state GOP.
Still, Obama supporters say they have a decisive head start.
“Our campaign in Virginia is second to none and will remain that way through November,” said Obama Virginia spokesman Frank Benenati. “We’ve already been on the ground for over two and half years through Organizing for America, and we are ramping up our efforts in every corner of the commonwealth to build the biggest grass-roots effort Virginia has seen — this before the Republicans even have a nominee.”
The state has swung widely over the past four years. Since Obama won Virginia in 2008, the first Democrat in four decades to do so, Republicans have prevailed in three consecutive elections, picking up the governor’s mansion, three congressional seats and state Senate control.
In a memo Tuesday, Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley cited recent Virginia polls showing both Obama’s job approval numbers and the share of voters saying he deserves reelection at under 50 percent.