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Uphill Battle: VA Dems Try to Recapture Momentum from '08

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Virginia's candidates for governor are trying to energize their bases in the last few weeks of a race that's viewed as a bellwether for post-Obama politics nationwide.

The Deeds campaign in particular is trying to capitalize on the grassroots support that helped elect President Obama last November. That won't be easy. Larry Sabato directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, he says this will be a very different election.

"There's a million to a million and a half people who won't be showing up. The question is: who are they? Every indication we have is that they are young, minorities, certain suburbanites, exactly the people who got turned out for Barack Obama last year. They are overwhelmingly Democratic," said Sabato.

One of those people is Jayne Byrnes, she was active in Virginia as an organizer for Obama in 08. But she says the energy in '09 is "nowhere close" to what it was.

"People got campaigned out, the energy level is just down." Byrnes believes that's because of the historic nature of the campaign: "Someone like Obama comes along only once every few generations, I put him in the same category as Kennedy."

Byrnes also believes that political networks like Organizing for America - the reincarnation of Obama's grassroots campaign - could have helped but focused more on issues like Health Care rather than campaigns.

Whatever the reason, the base seems to be late to rally and according to Sabato, "There are many, many, many undecided voters, but the problem for both candidates - and especially Creigh Deeds - is most of them aren't going to vote. Most undecideds decide not to vote in an off year election when they don't feel strongly."

Translation: it will come down to the base.

Sabri Ben-Achour reports...


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