Swing State Dispatches

Notes from the battlegrounds.

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Virginia :The winds of change are blowing in Virginia. Even in my nearly all-white, heavily Republican neighborhood just outside Richmond, Obama yard signs and bumper stickers have appeared. Going into Election Day, Obama is up 50 percent to 44 percent in Pollster.com's most recent compilation and is drawing enormous, enthusiastic crowds not only in Richmond, but in such previously hostile to Democratic territory as the Shenandoah Valley. Obama will end his campaign today with a rally in Manassas, Va. Black people are beside themselves—glowing with confidence one minute then shifting to uneasy predictions that somehow "they" are going to snatch away Obama's victory.

I don't think they need to worry. Unless a huge asteroid strikes, wiping out the population before the votes are counted, Obama is going to win Virginia handily, and with it, the presidency.

That's not only because he is running on the same ballot as former Gov. Mark Warner, who is tromping his opponent for a vacant U.S. Senate seat by more than 30 points in the latest polls. Or even because of the juggernaut of a ground operation his campaign has put in place, opening offices in more than 100 cities and towns across the state to mount a massive get-out-the-vote campaign.

Such factors are important, but the main reason for Obama's strong position is that the Old Dominion has changed. A massive influx of young, Democratic-leaning newcomers to the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington has wrested political dominance away from the archconservative patricians and rural rednecks who formerly controlled the state. Virginia is no longer recognizable as the state that permitted many counties to close their public schools rather than allow black kids and white kids to go to class together back in the 1950s. As I said, the winds of change are blowing in Virginia, and Obama's triumph tomorrow will make them stronger still.

--by Jack White

Pennsylvania : Over the last week, John McCain has refused to give up his fight for Pennsylvania. Faced with discouraging polling numbers and dwindling funds, the Arizona senator continues to insist that his chances in Pennsylvania are growing stronger. Yesterday, he took things a step further and guaranteed victory.

To be sure, McCain's optimism is well placed. With losses in traditional red states like Virginia appearing increasingly likely, McCain's only chance to win the White House is to snatch Pennsylvania (or Ohio) in a late-inning miracle. As such, it makes sense for him to project confidence and hope in the Keystone State.

But McCain's chances in Pennsylvania are slim to none. In addition to the latest polls, which show Obama with a comfortable seven-point lead, McCain's team continues to be outmaneuvered on the ground. Urban centers like Philadelphia, Chester and Pittsburgh are being swarmed with Obama workers in order to ensure that historically disenfranchised voters (read: poor black people) follow through on their promises for tomorrow.

Also, despite Hillary Clinton's earlier declarations to the contrary, white working-class voters seem to have finally decided on the Obama-Biden ticket. To be sure, this is linked to several factors, such as Biden's Scranton roots, Hillary's admirable efforts on the campaign trail and the nation's current economic crisis. Nevertheless, Obama is poised to win Pennsylvania by a handy margin and, barring something extraordinary, become our next president.

--by Marc Lamont Hill

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