Ken Cuccinelli: Not for us.
Terry McAuliffe: Stealing jobs from Americans.
This year’s gubernatorial race has been filled with these type of storylines in various negative advertisements, if you regularly watch TV, I’m sure you’ve seen some of them.
This isn’t news, as nearly every major political race features negative advertisements to try to put off undecided voters from a candidate. However, it seems that this year these negative ads are having more of an impact than ever before.
In the latest polls, McAuliffe currently leads Cuccinelli, garnering an expected 47% of the vote, and if this reflects what will happen Election Day, it will be the first time a Virginia governor would be elected with less than half the vote.
I work with one of the gubernatorial campaigns, specifically with grassroots marketing and voter outreach in Montgomery and nearby counties. This job means interacting on a daily basis with potential voters to discuss which candidate they plan on supporting for governor this year.
As southwest Virginia is historically a conservative area, it would be expected that support for the ultra-conservative candidate Cuccinelli over his liberal opponent would be more widespread. However, my experience has revealed a different reality, as many voters have expressed disappointment in their choice of candidates.
The general tone from undecided voters has been one of apathetic disdain. The disconnect between candidates has led to some voters turning to Robert Sarvis, a Libertarian candidate. Others are deciding to not vote at all, stating that they can’t bring themselves to vote for either candidate.
These two candidates are as different as the ideologies behind the Democrats and Republicans, and present two dramatically different views for our state’s future for the next four years.
However, the danger lies in the idea that two less-than-ideal candidates make an excuse for not voting. Should a majority of people adopt this mentality, our state’s gubernatorial race would be decided by an uneven representation of people.
It’s obvious that low voter turnout is bad. We learned this as early as civics class in middle school. In off-year elections such as this one, voter turnout rates are generally low — significantly so among young people, such as college students. In an election with these candidates, the potential for it being one of the lowest turnouts in recent history.
How can we combat this issue?
Easy. Educate yourself about these candidates and their views, and then go vote on Nov. 5. Don’t bemoan the choices that our future governor makes if you do not contribute. Whether your vote is cast for Cuccinelli, McAuliffe or even Sarvis, go out and exercise your right to cast one at all.
It’s important that Virginia has the right governor, one who is truly elected by, and representative of, the people.