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With Margins Close In Virginia, Goode Could Prove The Presidential Spoiler

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Presidential candidate Virgil Goode Jr. works the campaign trail in downtown Lynchburg, Va, where he could swing the election.
(AP Photo/Don Petersen)
Presidential candidate Virgil Goode Jr. works the campaign trail in downtown Lynchburg, Va, where he could swing the election.

President Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, have criss-crossed Virginia numerous times in the past two years. Even so, the race is still neck and neck, and there may even be a spoiler coming Tuesday.

Drive through Virginia and you see a battle underway. Yard signs dot the landscape- urban and rural alike. And, as you've surely noticed, there's also the ads: a mind numbing amount of smears, distortions and, of course, pandering. Then there are the candidates.

Besides the economy and women's health issues, the state's military presence has been the centerpiece of the race for Virginia, specifically looming cuts to the Pentagon. But the policy debate is just about over. Mitt Romney was in the commonwealth Thursday, while President Obama is heading to Prince William County Saturday. Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, says those last minute appearances won't change the game.

"Well, it's important to remember the vast majority of people have already made up their minds," says Sabato. "We're at the 97 percent mark. There may be about 3 percent undecided, and some of them won't vote."

The focus in these final days is on turning out voters.

Now the potential spoiler: there's another guy running who's been elected in Virginia before. While he's formerly a Democrat, former Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode is now promising to curb legal immigration and to drastically cut the federal budget. He's more likely to siphon off potential Romney votes.

"I don't know how many votes Virgil Goode is going to get, but if Virginia turns into a nail biter, then whatever number of votes Virgil Goode manages to accumulate it could make the difference," says Sabato.

The speeches have been given; now it's all about voter turnout. In 2008 then-candidate Obama won Virginia by so much a long shot Goode campaign wouldn t have mattered. 2012 is proving quite different than 2008, however.

Compare Virgil Goode to the other presidential candidates at VoterGuide.WAMU.org.

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