“I’m over it,” said Vanessa Olivar, 30, a lawyer still recovering from last year’s presidential election, when Virginia was a key battleground state. “Whenever a commercial comes on, usually I just roll my eyes.”
In May, McAuliffe and Cuccinelli were roughly tied in a Washington Post poll. Since then, McAuliffe has pulled ahead, thanks in large part to the growing support of women.
But the fact that women feel strongly about issues that separate McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, such as abortion and access to contraception, does not guarantee they will vote. To win, McAuliffe must draw women to the polls — especially younger women whose enthusiasm and sense of urgency in this race are sharply lower, according to polling results and brief interviews with more than 100 women living in Arlington’s youngest and most urban neighborhoods.
Many of the women interviewed were so adamant in their disengagement that they declined to give their names.
“I’m so embarrassed, I don’t know anything,” said a 28-year-old woman who lives with her fiance in a condo in Clarendon and works in Maryland. “I guess we will vote.”
“I only vote with presidential elections,” said a 25-year-old high school biology teacher who grew up in Woodbridge and now lives just off Clarendon Boulevard. “I know this is a terrible mentality, but I don’t think it matters.”
“I can’t tell you anything about either of them,” said a stay-at-home mom as she pushed her 10-month-old in a swing at Lyon Village Park, nestled in a wealthy enclave. “That probably sounds really uneducated.”
A Washington Post- Abt SRBI poll in late September found that McAuliffe had a 25-point advantage among women voters.
Yet the poll revealed a divide along age lines: 45 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 49 were “absolutely certain” that they would vote in November, far less than the 72 percent of women over the age of 50. And far fewer young women are following the race closely — 55 percent versus 75 percent for older women.
That may help explain why McAuliffe is scheduled to appear Saturday with Hillary Rodham Clinton at a “Women for Terry” rally in Falls Church. He has also saturated the airwaves with frightening ads featuring female narrators accusing Cuccinelli of threatening women’s reproductive health.
Young women voters are “harder to find and harder to motivate to get to the polls,” said Margaret Tseng, an associate politics professor at Marymount University in Arlington. “But fear is a good motivator. . . . The ads have definitely caused women to question what might happen to their reproductive rights if Cuccinelli becomes Virginia governor.”