That trend is what prompted John McCain's senior adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer to say on MSNBC last week that "Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into Northern Virginia, and that's really what you see there. But the rest of the state, real Virginia, if you will, I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain's message." Pfotenhauer might say Leesburg sits on the border of the "real" and "fake" Virginia.
If Barack Obama wins Loudoun County, he will all but certainly win Virginia's thirteen Electoral College votes. That's why he spoke in Leesburg this Wednesday afternoon in the large town park that—as even a local McCain supporter ruefully acknowledged—was the only venue in town big enough to hold the 15,000-person crowd.
But many in the crowd came from the Democratic-leaning suburbs closer to the District of Columbia, or even from the District itself. And a perusal of the campaign signs bedecking Leesburg's houses and front yards would seem to suggest that McCain has Obama quite outnumbered. From the columns of one house hung a giant white handmade banner: "Please Stop Abortion!"
Support for McCain was also on display in the Downtown Saloon, a biker bar with a collection of bras hanging from the ceiling, a "We Support Our Troops," banner on the back wall, a McCain poster in the window, and Fox News playing above the locals pulling at their beers. ("Better here than across the street," reads a sign in the window of the bar, which sits directly across from the court house.)
Scott Warner, the owner of the Saloon, who sports a goatee and a baseball cap with the Harley Davidson logo, says he put up the poster because he's a dedicated Republican. His views are more nationalistic than ideological: when asked why he supports McCain, he simply restated the campaign's slogan, "Country First."
Other McCain supporters said they were displeased with President Bush and unexcited about McCain. "I'm voting for McCain but I can't believe in the whole country these were the two best people they could come up with," said a retired firefighter named Dale, a middle-aged man who was smoking Marlboros and drinking Budweiser at the Saloon on Tuesday afternoon, and would not give his last name. "Sarah Palin was a bad choice; she's not ready," he added. "We got to look for new folks."
He said "leadership," was the reason he supports McCain, and expressed admiration for Colin Powell, despite Powell's recent endorsement of Obama. Powell is apparently a popular figure in Leesburg. Several local Republicans said they feared his endorsement would give Obama a boost among undecided voters.
Although Dale voted for George W. Bush both times, he's unhappy with Bush's record and probably will vote for Mark Warner, the Democratic former Virginia governor who is heavily favored to win a Senate seat—but not for Obama. "Obama is condescending and elitist," said Dale.