by Garrett Ross
Nearly 2.6 million Virginians voted for governor on Nov. 7, 2017. This year’s race for governor was a long battle, that had the major two parties pitted against each other. The Democratic Party was represented by Ralph Northam. Northam was a pediatric neurologist, army doctor, and former lieutenant governor and most recently, governor of Virginia. The Republican Party was represented by Ed Gillespie. Gillespie ran for U.S. Senate in 2014 and was a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
A large part of the election involved the use of advertisements and propaganda. Both candidates released ads attacking the other, in attempts to gain votes. An ad by Gillespie portrayed Northam passing laws that increase MS-13 rights and their involvement in local cities. Another ad says “Last year Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam instituted the automatic restoration of violent felons and sex offender, making it easy for them to obtain firearms and to serve on juries.” Northam aired an ad that revoked these allegations saying that they were false and the allegations go against his previous careers, in which a great deal of focus was put towards supporting children.
Alexandra Katz, a government teacher at Stuart, weighed in on the effects of propaganda in elections, stating, “I don’t think the candidates did anything out of the usual with their use of attack ads. Most elections use this type of media. However, I do think that they would have both benefitted more from positive ads about themselves rather than attack ads. As a constituent, I would prefer watching an ad that tells me what they would do for me if I vote for them.”
For a majority of the race, the polling results showed that Northam was projected to win the election. Many organizations took polls to show the projected winner would be. Before the election, Real Clear Politics (RCP) presented the average polling data, which illustrated that Northam was ahead by just 4 percent. RCP showed that Northam had been leading Gillespie since September.
During an interview on NPR, it was said that “This win was very important psychologically for many Democrats in the U.S.”
With each party trying to gain control over votes, this election was viewed as a crucial race for both parties. For the Democrats, it was important because they wanted to make sure the Virginia, which has been considered a swing state in the past, would remain a democratic state. For the Republicans, it was important considering how close Virginia is in geographical location to D.C. A win for the Republicans could help expand Trump’s administration and show control over Virginia’s representatives.
This election was full of the separate views and ideas of the parties. It was viewed as a big win for the Democrats, showing that a majority of Virginia will continue to vote democratic. The use of advertising to promote each candidate ended up causing a closer race. In the end, Northam won the election by nearly 8 percent, with a total of 1,405,041 votes; just over 200 thousand more than his contender.
“Hopefully the results of the election will impact our community positively. As a very diverse population at Stuart there are plenty of students and families that will benefit from legislation that Northam plans on instituting,” stated Katz.