Back on August 17, the state was North Carolina, and Obama's quest was greeted in the Times with an optimistic story headlined "Obama Backers Mobilize in Bid to Wrest State From Republican Grip ." The Times hasn't followed up on North Carolina, perhaps because cumulative polling data show John McCain with a nine-point  lead there (the August story quoted an average lead of four points in the polls).
In an unguarded moment in Thursday's piece, Urbina throws in a dash of liberal elitism while describing Obama's Virginia supportersin flattering terms. It's a reverse echo ofthe Washington Post's notorious "poor, uneducated, and easy to command " 1993 insult of Virginia-based televangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson's conservative followers, in a paragraph on the state's voter demographics:
Mr. McCain is expected to draw strong support from the more rural and southwest areas of the state, particularly among white working-class men, in a region that Mr. Obama lost in his otherwise resounding victory in the Feb. 12 primary, Professor Sabato said.
Support for Mr. Obama is much stronger in the northeastern section of the state, especially in places like Fairfax County, near Washington, whose population is younger, wealthier, better educated and more diverse.
Hampton Roads is more contested and tougher to predict, because it is home to core constituencies for both parties.
The region has, for example, the world's largest United States Navy base, the Norfolk Naval Station (Mr. McCain was a Navy pilot), more than 50,000 veterans and more than 500,000 people who work for the military. In 2004, President Bush won those who had served in the military by 57 percent to Senator John Kerry's 41 percent.
But more than 20 percent of Hampton Roads's population is African-American, a group that has largely backed Mr. Obama.