In recent years, the political atmosphere in the United States has experienced drastic polarization, both at the federal and state level.  Not only is this development shown in the media and the national discourse, but also in the way the public votes and the candidates nominated by each party.   This pattern is repeating itself in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, between Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe (D).  While the general consensus is that both candidates are on extreme ends of the political spectrum, Cuccinelli being strongly associated with the Tea Party movement and McAulliffe being a Democratic Party insider; however, only the former is currently running as such.  Taking place in an off-year election, and following a presidential election in which Virginia’s vote most resembled the national average, this race is likely to be nationalized.  The current campaign dynamic is that the Republican candidate is emphasizing his conservative credentials, while the Democrat is tacking towards the center and focusing on jobs.  Most recently, a transportation bill was approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed by Republican Governor McDonnell; Ken Cuccinelli criticized it heavily, while Terry McAulliffe praised its passage.  The race is currently even in most public polling, and both candidates have essentially won their respective party’s endorsements.

Through my study of this race over the summer, I will be able to follow its development, and how each candidate’s strategy connects with the public.  I will do so through public polling and political analysis from along the ideological spectrum.  These strategies- Cuccinelli’s of consistent conservatism and McAulliffe’s of business oriented moderation- along with their effects will give more information on the future of electoral politics both in Virginia and nationally.


  1. I think it’s really cool how you’re studying the race as it’s actually happening. Definitely really different and more current than simply researching past elections in a library or something. Will you be making a prediction as to the election outcome as part of your project?