Katharine DeRosa, News Editor
As election season approaches, Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin and Independent candidate Princess Blanding vie for the Virginia majority.
McAuliffe, Youngkin and Blanding will all appear as candidates on the ballot. Paul Davis is also running for governor as a write-in candidate. Election Day is Nov. 3 and in-person early voting starts on Sept. 17.
Blanding is the sister of Marcus-David Peters, a VCU alumnus who was shot and killed by police while experiencing a mental health crisis on Interstate 95. Blanding is running as a member of the Liberation party.
“I have the opportunity to directly speak and communicate with Virginians across the state, let them know about our platform and to let them know that this upcoming November, they do not have to choose between the lesser of the two evils,” Blanding said.
VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs released a poll on Aug. 20 in which they polled 823 adults in Virginia. People were contacted for the poll through both landlines and cell phones, including people who only have cell phones. Multiple attempts were made to contact each number and calls were made at different times of the day, according to the methodology of the poll. The response rate for landlines was 7.6% and 8% for cell phones.
Out of the people polled, 89%, are registered to vote and 10% reported they are not registered; 82% said they “definitely will” vote in November and 15% said they “probably will.”
Out of all registered voters, 40% said they would vote for McAuliffe, 37% said they would vote for Youngkin, and 15% said they would vote for neither candidate. The margin of error in the poll is 5.23%.
Blanding expressed frustration over not being included in polls done ahead of election season.
“Both the Democratic and Republican parties have been doing everything in their power to not even mention my name,” Blanding said.
The economy, health care, racial inequity and public education are some of the most prevalent issues that Virginians believe the next governor will face, according to the poll.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill in May that would ban certain abortions. The law went into effect on Sept. 1, and states that doctors may not willingly perform abortions if a fetal heartbeat has been detected. A fetus heart begins to develop after five weeks and can be heard “shortly afterward,” according to Mayo Clinic.
However, a Texas doctor may perform an abortion if they deem the situation a “medical emergency.”
The bill states that private citizens may bring civil action against people who perform abortions, people who receive abortions and people who help others receive abortions.
McAuliffe is the former governor of Virginia, serving from 2014 to 2018, and in 2013, he was the first Southern governor to officiate a gay wedding, according to his campaign website.
McAuliffe held a press call after the Texas law was passed. He referred to Youngkin as “probably the most anti-choice women’s candidate in the history of Virginia.”
Youngkin describes himself as “not a politician,” according to his campaign website. He previously worked at The Carlyle Group, which is a global investment firm. Youngkin did not respond for comments after multiple requests to a press email. Youngkin does not have any statements about abortion on his campaign website.
Executive Producer Lauren Windsor of The Undercurrent, the self-described “grassroots political web-show for investigative and field reporting,” attended an event in Loudoun County, Virginia, where she asked Youngkin about his views on abortion on video.
“I am staunchly, unabashedly pro-life,” Youngkin said in the video. “The abortion issue is an issue that the Democrats use to divide us.”
In the video, Youngkin responded to a comment about defunding Planned Parenthood saying “I can’t.”
“As a campaign topic, sadly, that in fact won’t win my independent votes that I have to get,” Youngkin said.
Nearly 60% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the most recent polling by Pew Research Center. Views vary across religious affiliations, with 44% of Protestants believing in abortion rights, 55% of Catholics believing in abortion rights and 82% of religiously unaffiliated people believing in abortion rights.
Blanding said the majority of people affected by anti-abortion laws would be minorities, because wealthy people would have the ability to cross state lines for health care if they needed to.
Reproductive rights fall under health care rights, according to Blanding. She said she wants to ensure people have access to “reproductive freedom.”
“Reproductive rights is very, very important,” Blanding said. “It’s something that we cannot continue to allow, not just men, but our legislators to make decisions about our bodies.”