November 5, 2013

McAuliffe elected Virginia governor over Cuccinelli

The Democrat wins the most closely watched race in Tuesday’s elections.

The Associated Press

Terry McAuliffe wrested the governor’s office from Republicans on Tuesday, capping an acrimonious campaign that was driven by a crush of negative advertising, non-stop accusations of dodgy dealings and a tea party-backed nominee who tested the limits of swing-voting Virginia.

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Va. Governor-elect Democratic Terry McAuliffe waves next to the flag of Virginia as he appears onstage to address his supporters at his victory party in Tysons Corner, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.

AP Photo/Cliff Owen

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Supporters cheer as they watch the results on television at the election night party for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in Tysons Corner, Va.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

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McAuliffe received 47 percent to Cuccinelli’s 46 percent, with 97 precincts reporting. He immediately promised to reach across party lines, starting with a pledge to meet with Republican lawmakers to find areas where they might collaborate.

“Over the next four years most Democrats and Republicans want to make Virginia a model of pragmatic leadership,” McAuliffe said. “This is only possible if Virginia is the model for bipartisan cooperation.”

McAuliffe, a Democrat, ran strong among unmarried women, voters who made abortion a top issue and those who called the suburbs of Washington, D.C., home, according to preliminary results of an exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks. Cuccinelli, meanwhile, fared well among tea party backers, gun owners and among the state’s rural residents — but there were not enough of them to yield a victory.

In winning, McAuliffe broke a stubborn streak in state history. During the past nine governor’s races, the party that controlled the White House at the time has always lost.

That’s not to say voters rushed to back McAuliffe’s vision for Virginia. Turnout was low, and both candidates worked through Election Day to reach as many potential voters as possible.

Only 52 percent of voters said they strongly backed their candidate, while the rest had reservations or backed a candidate because they disliked the other options, according to exit polls. Neither major candidate’s ideological views seemed “right” for a majority of Virginians; 50 percent called Cuccinelli too conservative; and 41 percent said McAuliffe is too liberal.

The exit poll included interviews with 2,376 voters from 40 polling places around the state. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Voters’ dissatisfaction couldn’t overshadow the fight on television. McAuliffe enjoyed a 10-to-1 advertising advantage over Cuccinelli during the final days.

“I think that every single person in Virginia is glad now that the TV ads are over,” McAuliffe said to laughter and applause.

In his emotional concession speech, Cuccinelli also noted the lopsided spending and vowed he would not give up on his fight against Democrats’ national health care law.

“The battle goes on,” Cuccinelli said.

The campaign’s tilt turned many voters off.

“I really hated the negative campaigning,” said Ellen Tolton, a 52-year-old grant writer. “I didn’t want to vote for any of them.”

Richard Powell, a 60-year-old retired IT manager who lives in Norfolk, described himself as an independent who frequently votes for members of both parties. He said he cast his ballot for McAuliffe, although not because he’s particularly enthusiastic about him. He said he was more determined not to vote for Cuccinelli, who he said overreaches on a variety of medical issues.

Voters were barraged with a series of commercials that tied Cuccinelli to restricting abortions, and while Powell said the negative advertising “got to be sickening,” abortion rights played a factor in his vote.

“I’m not in favor of abortion — let’s put it that way — but I find that restricting abortion causes far more social harm than allowing abortion, so that was an issue for me,” he said.

McAuliffe’s narrow victory in Virginia rested on a 9-point edge among women, while the two major party candidates split men about evenly, according to exit polls. McAuliffe carried liberals and moderates, Cuccinelli independents and tea party backers.

Libertarian Robert Sarvis spiked to 15 percent support among voters younger than 30, and independents.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Supporters celebrate the news that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has been elected the next Governor of Virginia during the election night party in Tysons Corner, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.

AP Photo/Cliff Owen

click image to enlarge

Republican gubernatorial candidate, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli delivers his concession speech with his wife, Teiro, during a rally in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Cuccinelli was defeated by Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

AP Photo/Steve Helber

 


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