When faced with fundraising statistics from eastern Loudoun County for the two presidential nominees, Eve Wilson doesn't flinch.
"I don't think that's going to be reflective of the vote," said Wilson, 10th District Democratic Committee chair. "I'm seeing a lot of signs of outward mobility and bumper stickers that I've never seen before."
Still, for the Democrats, the latest fundraising news from eastern Loudoun is grim. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, President George Bush has outstripped Democratic nominee John Kerry's efforts by a three to one margin. For the zip codes east of Leesburg, 158 donors gave a total of $159,417 to the Bush campaign, while 93 donors gave a total of $54,787 to the Kerry campaign.
And while 46 residents gave $2,000, the maximum amount, to Bush, only eight gave the maximum to Kerry.
Republicans can't afford to get cocky yet, however, and Tom Potter, vice chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee, recognized that.
"It's always been a contact sport," Potter said. "It's going to be a close election."
FOR DONORS who gave the maximum amount to either campaign, there was one refrain in common: first on many Kerry and Bush supporters' minds was the war in Iraq.
Jim McAleese, a Sterling attorney specializing in national security and government contract law, placed national security as the top issue for this election, and the reason why he and his wife contributed to the Bush campaign.
"The importance of winning the war on terror and annihilating Al Qaeda is far more important than anything Bush could do for me as a small business owner," McAleese said.
"A lot of people have forgotten why we got into the Iraqi war in the first place," said Tom Berezoski, an Ashburn businessman. He and his wife both donated the maximum amount to the Bush campaign.
"We basically have invited the terrorists to go to Iraq and fight us there," Berezoski said.
But for Hugh McKee, a Sterling retiree who served in the Vietnam War, the war in Iraq was ill-advised.
"We certainly didn't think about what we would be faced with," he said.
McKee's contribution to the Kerry campaign was driven, at least in part, by his aversion to Bush personally.
"I don't really care for Bush, the way he misspeaks," McKee said.
WHILE THE WAR in Iraq came up time and again, other issues also propelled donors to make out checks for the maximum amount. Ashburn resident Ellen Clouse's background in cytotechnology made stem cell research a top concern in the election.
"I understand very well about stem cell research and how they politicized the issue," Clouse said. "Alzheimer's cannot be cured with stem cells."
Bush's opposition to creating new stem cell lines was one of the reasons Clouse and her husband donated to the Bush campaign.
For personal injury lawyer Robert Hall, the decision was, well, personal.
"I'm not a natural Democrat," said Hall, a Sterling resident and stepson of Winston Prouty, a Republican senator from Vermont. "I'm from Republican roots."
Hall cited Bush's "blind assault on a pretty damn good profession" as a reason he's supporting Kerry.
One way Bush has hogtied the judicial system, Hall said, was to eliminate patients' ability to sue a manufacturer of a faulty medical device if it was approved by the Food & Drug Administration. For example, 66 people in Northern Virginia received 77 defective artificial knees from Pfizer — knees that lasted months instead of the prescribed years. Thanks to Bush, however, patients can't sue Pfizer, because the implants were approved by the FDA.
Kerry's choice of trial lawyer John Edwards as a running mate has salved Hall's concerns about the future of the judicial branch of government.
"It put a face on the trail lawyers that Bush hates so much," he said.
Hall classifies himself as neither Republican or Democrat, but for him, the choice this year is clear.
"I'm not anti-Republican. State Sen. Bill Mims, I'd follow him anywhere. I'd go to battle for that guy," Hall said. "Bush, geez, he scares the dickens out of me."