A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows McAuliffe and Cuccinelli in a virtual tie. While the poll technically gives McAuliffe a slight lead over Cuccinelli, that lead falls within the margin of error.
Although polling shows that it is unlikely Sarvis will outright win the election, he has held a surprisingly high percentage for a third party candidate ranging between 5 and 10 percentage points. That could split votes and push one of the major candidates into victory.
In the past, third party candidates have had a difficult time gaining momentum in Old Dominion. The last Independent candidate in
Third party candidates often have an uphill battle competing against other candidates who have the backing of major political parties. They are often ignored by the national media, they are shut out of debates and the funding available is substantially less. Even navigating the complex process to get their names on the ballot is much more difficult for an Independent candidate.
But this upcoming election in
Cuccinelli has had to spend much of his campaign separating himself from the current Republican governor Bob McDonnell and the donor who brought scandal to his office.
McAuliffe has had to deal with scandal of his own, with an investigation into his former electric car company.
According to Sarvis’ campaigning website, he grew up in Northern Virginia and graduated from
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, explained what he believes the polls show in a released statement along with the polling results, “History tells us that third-party candidates tend to experience shrinking support as Election Day nears. If Sarvis does get 7 percent of the actual vote, that would reflect not just his strength but the weakness of the major party candidates.”
“Right now, we can’t tell whether Sarvis’ candidacy is hurting Cuccinelli more than McAuliffe,” said Brown. “The Libertarian candidate is getting 3 percent of the Republican vote and 2 percent of the Democratic vote, but 14 percent of Independent voters.”
Servis appeals to democratic voters with his platform of personal freedoms, supporting marriage equality, restoring civil liberties and “embracing immigrants with open arms.”
At the same time, he appeals to Republican voters with his stands on economic freedom by offering tax relief, freeing up workers and job creators from needless regulation and putting parents in control of the money spent on their children’s education.
With a campaign slogan of “
The Quinnipiac poll showed that honesty is either extremely or very important to 94 percent of Virginia voters, and understanding problems of “people like me” was important to 81 percent. Neither Cucinnelli nor McAuliffe reaches 50 percent in these categories.
The Libertarian party is increasingly popular with young voters. Many of the social stigmas have broken down for the younger generations, and they are more likely to describe themselves as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, making it easy for them to identify with the Libertarian platform.
Additionally, many of these voters are uncomfortable with increased government surveillance and see reduced personal liberties in the name of the Patriot Act. They also do not agree with a bigger government that includes condoning the use of drone attacks on American citizens.
With an election running as tightly as the Virginia gubernatorial election has been since the primary elections, an outside force such as Robert Sarvis could change up the results in an unexpected way.
He is a force that the major parties would be wise to take notice of.
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