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Election 2012: In Senate, a mighty struggle to maintain status quo

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In Virginia, the Allen and Kaine campaigns are well funded and draw on a well of experienced political hands. But in terms of political electricity, they don't hold a candle to the juggernaut of a presidential race.

The Senate candidates are watching as Obama and Mr. Romney spend heavily, in time and treasure, in the Old Dominion. The state's four major media markets – Washington, D.C.; Norfolk; Richmond; and Roanoke – are all in the top 20 for presidential campaigns' ad buys. That distinction is matched only by perennial swing-state Ohio, according to an analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project.

Virginia has collected 52 visits from the presidential contenders, their wives, and their vice presidential picks, trailing only Ohio (63) and Florida (68), according to data compiled by The Washington Post.

How should the Senate candidates campaign? Hold on for the ride, says Virginia-based political analyst Quentin Kidd, and be careful.

Kaine, one of the first governors to endorse Obama in 2008 and chairman of the Democratic National Committee at the start of the president's term, is tied deeply to Obama's popularity in the state. Mr. Allen is in a trickier situation, needing to embrace Romney enough to ride his coattails should he win in Virginia but not wanting to come too close in the event Romney falters.

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