Virginia will remain a battleground, says Gov. McDonnell

Virginia will again be a presidential battleground state in 2012, according to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).

President Obama won Virginia in 2008, but he's seen his popularity there dip as the economy has remained stagnant. Recent poll numbers from Gallup show Obama's popularity dropped by double-digits during the past year in a number of key states the president won in 2008, including Virginia, where Obama's approval rating is below 50 percent.

Virginia's top Republican offered his take on the state's campaign dynamics during a briefing for reporters ahead of the Republican Governors Association's annual gala Monday.

Asked if he thought Virginia will be competitive in 2012, McDonnell offered a slightly nuanced assessment.  

"Probably, but I think it's going to swing right," he said. "The president won Virginia by seven points [in 2008] and I was fortunate the next year to win by 18."

He noted that Republicans picked up three House seats in 2010 and now control eight of the 11 in the delegation. "It's a right of center state," McDonnell said. "But it's competitive in the Northern Virginia area."

The GOP's prospects in the state will be closely tied to politics in Washington, the governor added.

"I think that Virginia is a very fiscally conservative state," said McDonnell. "If the fiscal situation stays where it is with Washington, they will see that this is not the way to govern and it will go Republican."