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Presidential candidate Virgil Goode Jr. works the campaign trail in downtown Lynchburg in mid-September.
Don Petersen/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 10/9/2012
ROCKY MOUNT--Virgil Goode knows his obscure presidential run on the Constitution Party ticket vexes his former Republican comrades, a thought that produces a sly smile he can't suppress. He doesn't really try.
To Virginia Republicans, however, the eccentric former GOP congressman from bucolic Rocky Mount threatens to peel away conservative votes from Mitt Romney and, in a close race, hand Virginia's 13 electoral votes and possibly four more years to President Barack Obama. Virginia is among the nine states where the Nov. 6 election likely will be decided.
"You do realize that you could singlehandedly make Obama win the national election this fall, even though Mitt Romney stands for many of same things that you have said you support," said 17-year-old Mitchell Swann, an E.C. Glass High School senior and president of its Young Republicans Club, after Goode spoke on the Lynchburg campus.
Recent polls show Obama about even or slightly ahead of Romney in head-to-head Virginia pairings by 4 to 8 percentage points. Only one, a Washington Post poll of 934 registered Virginia voters conducted Sept. 12-16, included Goode, and he was the choice of 2 percent. The poll's sampling error margin is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
"He's still a household name in some parts of Virginia," said Mark Rozell, a political science professor at George Mason University in Fairfax. "Unlike other candidates, Virgil Goode has the potential to siphon off a sizable number of votes regionally."
Rozell said that if it comes down to Virginia in a very close election, Goode could draw 1 percent to 2 percent of the vote to become this year's Ralph Nader, although statistically it's unlikely.
Many Democrats consider Nader, a consumer activist and 2000 Green Party presidential candidate, a spoiler who cost Al Gore the election. Nader denies the claim. He drew about 100,000 votes that year in Florida's razor-thin contest, which went to George W. Bush.