For some voters, though, philosophy matters more than the candidate.
Chris Charron, who is leaning Republican, likes Romney's run-government-like-a-business approach, though he's less impressed with the candidate. "There's a certain charisma you have to have," he says, "And I don't think he's got it."
Charron recently sold his construction consulting company, nervous about how the business â¿¿ 80 percent involved government contracts â¿¿ would fare in this era of budget cutbacks. He also was impatient with the pace of recovery.
"Every time the economy takes a step forward," he says, "you get a little excited, then you get knocked back on your knees."
Now part owner of a winery, 868 Estate Vineyards, and the adjoining Grandale Farm Restaurant, Charron is relieved he no longer works with federal bureaucrats.
"There are some people in the government who are not qualified or capable of doing their job," he says. "But there's no way to get fired in government. You either get moved around or you get promoted."
THE GOVERNMENT DIVIDE
In campaign 2012, the candidates have repeatedly clashed over the size and scope of government. Obama believes government has a role in creating conditions for prosperity. Romney argues it's too big and intrusive, though he wants to increase defense spending.
Those sharp divisions are reflected among Virginia voters, too.
Tom Mastaglio, CEO of MYMIC, a simulation and training company in Portsmouth â¿¿ most of his clients are in the defense industry â¿¿ sides with Republicans on this issue. He thinks the federal government is inefficient and has too many unnecessary programs.
Mastaglio thinks Romney is a good businessman and will likely support him. He believes Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic House and Senate leaders share a government-has-all-the-answers attitude, stemming from lifetime political careers. "They don't understand there are other ways to solve problems without federal tax dollars," the Army veteran says. "That's just their upbringing."