The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

14 embarrassing things you do when you’re about to lose an election

Gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald greets people during the 11th Congressional District Community Caucus Labor Day Parade Monday, Sept. 1, 2014, in Cleveland. Ohio Democrats have their work cut out for them as they try to rally support at Labor Day gatherings. AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

When it comes to elections, no one seems to care about spoilers as much as we do when it comes to TV or books. Banish forever the person who gives away the ending of Gone Girl, but no one seems to care that polling firms have flipped to the end of the West Virginia Senate race and given away the big finale.

The closer we get to Nov. 4, the only races we care about are the ones in which the endings haven't been written yet, thanks to margins of error and politics' determination to surprise every now and then. The races that have already been spoiled for us are completely forgotten; if there's anything we learned from The Sixth Sense, it's that there's no joy in watching it again after you know (SPOILER ALERT) which of the characters was dead all along.

What happens when your electoral race is canceled from the midterm season's narrative line-up? We checked in on some of the candidates you had forgotten about to see how they are spending the final week of the election. It's not terribly uplifting.

Failing to get your opponent to even acknowledge your existence

Here's a recap of a recent debate between Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and his out-of-contention opponent, Ed FitzGerald (D).

The governor and FitzGerald shook hands before and after the interview, but that was the extent of their interaction. FitzGerald, dressed in a suit and tie, seemed to be on the edge of his seat, eager to land a punch whenever possible. Kasich, open collar, sans tie, often slouched while using a second chair's armrest for extra comfort.
"One of these three people is pretty confident about winning the election for Ohio governor," quipped Cleveland Scene, after seeing a photo on Twitter.
FitzGerald tried repeatedly to draw Kasich into a one-on-one debate. Each time, Kasich refused to take the bait. When FitzGerald turned to his left to try and catch Kasich's eye, the governor stared straight ahead or off to his other side. Kasich was more charitable to Rios, whom he looked toward most times she spoke. He even piggybacked off Rios' comments about the manufacturing economy.
Kasich declined to answer any question that FitzGerald posed directly. He only would answer when an editor or reporter in the room repeated FitzGerald's question.
Come to think of it, maybe "face-off" is a misnomer for this interview.

Kasich is 19 points ahead of FitzGerald in the latest poll, thanks to a series of unhelpful revelations about FitzGerald's personal life.

Taking photos with coal miners

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) is 22 points behind Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) in the latest poll. She is being careful, on the off-chance that something radically changes in the electoral landscape in the next few days -- and possibly in preparation for another run for governor -- to hang out with coal miners as much as possible.

Amiably sparring

Also having friendly, historic debates

The "historic" part is because whoever wins will become the first elected African-American senator from South Carolina.

Many debates in close elections, though, have not been very nice.

Taking questions from eight-year-olds who can't vote but want to save the world from Ebola

When U.S. Senate candidate Brian Herr asked for questions from the audience Monday night, one of the first hands to go up belonged to 8-year-old Ryan DiLisio.
A third-grader, Ryan wanted to know what Herr would do about the deadly Ebola disease that has dominated news headlines.
“I’m really worried about it,” the youngster said later. “We’re all in grave danger.”
He told Herr that when he grows up, he wants to invent a machine that will kill germs.
Herr, a Republican challenger, said it’s not surprising that the fear of Ebola has spread to young people.
His own son was recently sick with the flu, but kept insisting he had Ebola.
“He kept saying, ‘It’s Ebola, it’s Ebola,’” Herr said.
The symptoms for the flu and Ebola are similar, Herr said, so it’s understandable that a child would confuse the two.
“Kids do think about these things,” he said.

The latest poll has Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) up 25 points on Herr.

Defending the Redskins

Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie is 12 points behind incumbent Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) in the latest poll.


Democrat Charlie Hardy, a 75-year-old former priest, is 40 points behind Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.). He has been traveling the state in a bus for months, going for a three-mile-run in the morning every day wherever the campaign is camped. He's likely to continue doing so for the last remaining days of the race.

Voting for yourself

Democratic state Rep. Amanda Curtis subbed into the Montana Senate race after incumbent Sen. John Walsh (D) dropped out amid a plagiarism scandal. With only months to campaign, it was never going to be easy. Republican Rep. Steve Daines is about 18 points ahead. She's still scheduling rallies, and voted for herself on Tuesday.

Voting for yourself with your mom

Incumbent Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) is 31 points ahead of Democrat Nels Mitchell in the latest poll.

Writing an affidavit for yourself so that people can vote for you even though you lost a primary

Incumbent Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) lost his primary. However, he is now waging a write-in campaign. He told Roll Call, “I don’t think we’ll get enough votes to keep the opponent from getting elected. All I’m concerned about is getting people who want a voice through a protest vote to do a protest vote and vote for Terri Lynn Land," who is the Republican Senate candidate.

Dave Trott beat Bentivolio in the primary, and is facing off against Democrat Bobby McKenzie.

Hanging out with a chicken

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gordon Ball could not have been happier to drape his arm around a person in a flannel-clad chicken suit Wednesday morning.
The gimmick is a jab at U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander's iconic flannel shirt, made popular during his successful gubernatorial campaigns, and Alexander's refusal to debate before the Nov. 4 general election. Joined by former Democratic Rep. Lincoln Davis, Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard and other supporters outside the Howard Office Building in Nashville, Ball repeated his calls for debate.
"He won't come out, he won't come out and fight. He'll fight on TV, and he'll fight through his TV ads, but that's it," Ball said.
Ball never directly called Alexander a "chicken," though he did call the chicken "Lamar."

Incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is 22 points ahead in the latest poll.

Asking for retweets ... and getting mostly silence

Democratic candidate Connie Johnson is 34 points behind Rep. James Lankford (R) in the latest Oklahoma Senate poll.

Going on a bus tour

Democratic candidate Jack Hatch is 19 points behind incumbent Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) in the latest poll. He's still going on a 37-stop bus tour between now and the election.

Knocking on doors and talking about all the doors you've knocked on.

Incumbent Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y) has a hefty double-digit lead over Democrat Sean Eldridge.