In Virginia “Are You Better Off Than Four Years Ago?” Is The Wrong Question

The far more important question is, “How would you like to join the rest of the nation in suffering?”

As Tony Lee at Big Government points out:

Fairfax County’s economy is dependent on the defense industry, and the county may be the hardest hit by the sequestration. Romney this week strongly opposed the proposed defense cuts, which may allow the many Virginia voters whose livelihoods are dependent on the industry to give Romney’s candidacy a look.

One in seven Virginia voters lives in vote-rich Fairfax County, making it one of the most important swing counties in one of the most important swing states. Obama won the county in 2008 with 60% of the vote. In 2009, though, Republican Bob McDonnell won the county with 50.7 percent of the vote. And these military and national security issues may give Romney a chance to win the county. If Romney cannot win the county, Romney may be able to hold down Obama’s margins, which would give Romney a better chance of winning the state by taking some of Virginia’s less Obama-friendly counties.

Northern Virginia (and the rest of the DC metropolitan area) have been mostly recession proof because of government spending, particularly defense spending. Unemployment is low and even though the housing market crashed, it’s made a pretty strong comeback. The avalanche of foreclosures has slowed to a trickle and modestly priced housing (which in Northern Virginia is homes in the $300,000 to $400,000 range) are selling fast.

Many people are, if not better off, no worse off than they were four years ago in Prince William, Loudoun, and Fairfax counties. The vote in these three counties will determine the fate of Virginia. As Lee notes, Romney needs to keep Fairfax close, and I contend that he will need to win Loudoun and Prince William by normal Republican vs. Democrat margins in those Republican leaning counties. Obama squeaked out victories in Prince William and Loudoun versus John McCain in 2008 reversing a long trend of those two counties going heavily for the Republican candidate. With Democratic Alexandria/Arlington and Richmond counteracting Republican votes in all of the rural districts in the state, it really does come down to just these three counties.

I’ve talked with local folks about this and the “are you better off than four years ago” argument isn’t really the no-brainer that it is everywhere else in the country. Lot’s of folks around here don’t know a ton of people who were laid off or lost everything. Sure there are people who got hit over the last four years in Northern Virginia, but with a strong job market most people don’t stay unemployed very long.

In Northern Virginia the sequestration will be a big issue. The problem is that just like things like a federal government shutdown, the local populace becomes a bit jaded to doom and gloom sayers. Even if the government does shutdown federal workers tend to get their back pay and are rarely (if ever) terminated. Sequestration is still a “down the road” issue.

The Romney camp and Super PAC’s focused on Virginia are going have to hammer home the cascading impacts of the sequestration that’s fast approaching and translate it to votes. It would even be more helpful if they could get big consulting and defense companies to start quantifying what these automatic cuts would mean to their current workforce. If, for example, Booz Allen Hamilton whose headquarters are in Fairfax County were to announce that cuts in defense spending from the automatic sequestration budget cuts were going to force a 25% reduction in their 25,000 person workforce, that would rock Norther Virginia like an earthquake. Add CACI, SAIC, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, etc. to the list and you’d have Virginia voters undivided attention.

I’ve talked with folks who are out canvasing for Romney. Those who say they are voting for Romney are rock solid; those who say they are voting for Obama are squishy. At least in Northern Virginia there are lots of those who say they are Obama voters who are really “undecided on Romney” voters. It’s up to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to sell them. Their fallback plan is to vote Obama, they’re just looking for a reason, or reasons, not to.

Line up the data on the looming disaster coming from sequestration, remind them Obama isn’t going to fix it, show them your plan to avoid it, then clean up votes in the Northern Virginia counties where the race will be decided.

There’s your Romney playbook to win Virginia – gratis…

Pentagon Denies Reports That Marines At U.S. Embassy In Egypt Had No Ammunition
Minus Teleprompter, Obama Goes Off Script On Egypt