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Tame Primary Campaigns In Virginia Could Benefit GOP

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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov., Mitt Romney addresses the Northern Virginia Technology Council in Reston, Va., Feb. 10.
(AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
  Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov., Mitt Romney addresses the Northern Virginia Technology Council in Reston, Va., Feb. 10.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won yesterday's Republican presidential primary in Virginia, but leading up to it, he and the others didn't spend a lot of cash in the state, sparing voters a multi-million dollar negative ad campaign.

That could help the GOP's nominee win the state in the general election, because many voters in competitive states report being soured by all the nasty ads Republican candidates have been lobbing at each other.

"Negative ads are generally designed to drive down your opponents' supporters," says Bill Allison of the watchdog group Sunlight Foundation.  

Ahead of yesterday's vote, Virginia was largely passed over by the GOP candidates because only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul made the ballot. 

Restore Our Future, a political action committee known as a "super PAC,"  has run negative campaign ads against Romney's opponents in several key battleground states. Allison says if Romney wins the nomination, his campaign could benefit from Virginia being such a tame primary. 

"But in the sense of the fall and Virginia being a swing state, it may help Romney not to have had his super PAC run the scorched earth campaign that he's had to do in other states," Allison says. 

While Virginia voters were spared the negativity this time, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) says the fall will be a different story.

"Virginia is going to be a competitive state at the presidential, senatorial, and congressional levels and therefore I think you're going to see a lot of resources and it is going to be a very, very robust contest," Connolly says.

Democrats also point out that none of the GOP candidates were forced to campaign too hard in Virginia, which they say gives them a leg up when it comes to the ground game that will be essential to win Virginia in the fall. 

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