In 2008, Obama’s seven-point victory in Virginia marked the first time that any Democratic candidate had carried the state since Lyndon B. Johnson’s landslide national victory in 1964. Duplicating that feat in 2012 would make his reelection significantly easier.

The political tide, however, has been running the other way — starting with the 2009 election of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and continuing with GOP victories in last year’s midterm elections.

“Independents specifically have rejected the Obama agenda, and they are fully supportive of the McDonnell agenda,” said Phil Cox, who managed the governor’s campaign and is now executive director of the Republican Governors Association.