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Va. Escapes Worst Of Recession But New Fears Ahead

Romney, he adds, will have more appeal in conservative, moderate-income areas where "the population is disenchanted with the recovery. These are the people who feel government ought to get out of their lives."

Throughout the state, Romney also has been trying to convince women his economic policies would help them more than Obama's, part of a strategy to cut into the president's strength among female voters. Obama, who has emphasized women's health issues, held a 19-point lead among females in one Virginia poll.

Economic messages still matter despite the state's relatively low unemployment, Rozell says, because people hear the national dialogue and "share the same anxieties and concerns about their own futures."

That's true in Loudoun County. Though this is home to the nation's highest median household income (more than $119,000 a year in the 2011 survey), it's also not immune to struggle.

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TALES OF ANXIETY

Molly Lovato and her husband, Paulo, both felt the recession's pinch. She lost her lease on her flower shop at Dulles International Airport; his landscape business lost many middle-income clients.

But, she says, "plenty of people suffered far worse than we did," and business decisions may have contributed to some of their troubles.

A local Obama volunteer, Lovato credits the president with steering the country away from financial disaster. "I think he kept us from sliding into a depression," she says. "I'm really dumbfounded by people who say 'Why didn't he fix this?' and it's 20 minutes later."

She compares reviving the economy to gutting and then rehabbing a home. "It takes a hot minute for everything to unravel," she says, "but to put it back together is really very difficult."

But Anthony Cavallo, who owns the Vintage 50 restaurant in Leesburg, says lingering questions about the economic future hurt business. He closed two restaurants in the last year.

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