POLITICS

GOP works to recapture Prince William, Loudoun counties

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Long Republican strongholds, the Virginia counties of Prince William and Loudoun switched sides and went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008. This year, the GOP wants them back.

At a Republican debate watch party in the Prince William County town of Bristow Monday night, campaign volunteers said there is an excitement level this time that wasn't there in 2008.

"Well, I just kind of judge by bumper stickers, and I think there are a lot more Romney bumpers stickers around here than there were McCain four years ago," said Bob Pennefather, a Nokesville resident who supports Mitt Romney.

In 2004, Republican George Bush beat Democrat John Kerry by six percentage points in Prince William. But in 2008 there was a huge swing, as Obama carried the fast-growing county by 16 percentage points over Republican John McCain.

Democrats are fighting to hold onto the momentum they had four years ago.

"Probably '08 was more exciting because it was a first," said Gainesville resident Cynthia Chambliss, who hosted a debate watch party for Democrats at her home Monday night.

Chambliss says there is still a lot of enthusiasm on the Democratic side even if the spirit of '08 is tough to recapture.

"It may be a closer margin than last time," she said. "But I think we're going to win it."

Democrats are also fighting to hold on to Loudoun County, another locality  that used to be a Republican stronghold before going Democrat in 2008.
Bush won Loudoun by 12 percent in '04, but Obama won it by eight percent in '08.

Both Loudoun and Prince William mirror the entire state of Virginia, which before Obama carried it in 2008 hadn't gone for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Volunteers with both campaigns say the close polls in the state this time around are giving them extra energy.

"That's why I do it as much as I do it, because I know I'm making a difference," said Marilyn Karp, an Obama volunteer from Haymarket.

"It's so neat to see how excited people are about politics in general," said Angela Okada, a Romney volunteer from Manassas.

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