Changing demographics have transformed Virginia, traditionally a Republican-leaning state, into a territory very much within the Democrats’ grasp.
Mitt Romney is not alone in being put under pressure by Barack Obama’s feisty TV performance.
His supporters know they need to respond too on the campaign trail.
“Romney is an honest man. Look at his family, he believes in God, look at the man. What can people not like about him?” said one young woman at Romney’s rally in Leesburg.
“I think he is a strong candidate, I want to see him win. And I think our country needs him so much,” said a man at the rally wearing a priest’s dog-collar.
Obama’s TV fightback has inspired his supporters, such as one group of volunteers working the phones in a Washington suburb.
The shift pattern continues round the clock and the campaign effort is stepping up a gear.
So important is Virginia that they are now calling people in the neighbouring state to persuade them to back the president.
“Depending on how many people come in, our goals are 750 to 1,000 calls per shift. We have to get out the vote effort now, which means we have increased our phone banks to Saturdays and Sundays,” said Obama campaign volunteer Harriet Edmondson.
“A lot of people are at work, so I leave a lot of messages. But the people that have been answering today have been very positive,” said another volunteer, Shery Lemme.
After a presidential debate that has breathed new life into the race for the White House, the candidates’ supporters have their work cut out on the campaign trail – especially in the crucial swing states.
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