The excitement over the 2008 presidential campaign that compelled 500,000 new voters to register and generated a 75 percent turnout just isn't there for an off-year legislative election that features no statewide or national races.
Turnout for Tuesday's elections for state and local offices -- including boards of supervisors and school boards -- probably won't come close to the 46 percent turnout from last year's midterm congressional elections.
If history is any indicator, about 30 percent of registered Virginians will vote this year even though there is a vigorous battle for control of the state Senate, political prognosticators and party officials have no reason to believe this year will be different.
Democrats are fighting to maintain a 22-18 Senate majority. Republicans already control the House of Delegates and the governor's mansion. As of Oct. 26, more than $31 million was spent in Senate races.
"It's amazing; for all the money that's going in and for the ability to blanket the various TV stations with ads, I still think the turnout is going to be low unless there's a strong sheriff race or difficult race for county board," said Karen Hult, political science professor at Virginia Tech University.
Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and former governor and U.S. Senate candidate George Allen are all expected to stump for Republicans up to Election Day.
Not to be outdone, former governor and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb and a slew of volunteers from President Obama's D.C. campaign office will "get out the vote" for Democrats.
Every four years, Virginia politicians must battle voter fatigue caused by the demands of casting ballots every 12 months, not including all of the primary elections. In 2006, 52 percent of voters turned out for congressional elections but 30 percent came out the following year for the legislative races.
That typically favors incumbents, said Kyle Kondick, an analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. The GOP is challenging 16 sitting Democratic senators. Just three Republican senators face challengers and they can count on momentum from the 2009 Republican sweep of Virginia's statewide offices and the pickup of three of the state's congressional seats in 2010.
"They definitely have more resources. That's a very helpful thing having the governor at the top. Democrats don't really have a marquee person in state government right now," Kondick said. "It's very helpful to have the lieutenant governor and the attorney general as well. The cards are certainly stacked in [Republicans'] favor."