Turnout may hold key to Va. governor’s race

WASHINGTON – “None of the above” could be the deciding factor in the Nov. 5 election for Virginia governor.

Getting people out to vote has been the focus for both Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli over the last two weeks, perhaps a bit more than usual, says University of Mary Washington political science professor Stephen Farnsworth.

“Both of these campaigns are really fighting a great deal of hostility to basically everybody in government right now,” he says.

Farnsworth says that sentiment could keep people at home on Election Day.

“Neither campaign has been all that effective in making the argument that they themselves are the good choice,” he says.

Voter turnout in off-year elections in Virginia usually hovers between 40 and 46 percent.

Farnsworth says the basic worry for both parties right now is that their supporters will simply stay home.

He says bad weather on Election Day could make that concern even greater.

A key area for both candidates is voter-rich Northern Virginia. Fairfax County may be the biggest battleground. Based on the number of absentee ballots cast so far, the county could see a similar turn out Tuesday as the last governor’s election in 2009.

Figures from the Fairfax County Board of Elections indicate during the last race for governor in 2009, a total of 23,332 people applied for absentee ballots. When the voting was complete, 19,696 had either voted by mail or in person absentee.

As of Oct. 31 in Fairfax County, 24,385 voters applied for absentee ballots, and 18,151 voters have either voted in-person absentee or sent their ballots back by mail.

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