What do ODU students know about the gubernatorial election?

Alex Scruggs | News Editor

With less than a week to go before election day, is ODU ready? A survey done by the Mace indicates that 38 out of 100 students don’t even know when voting is taking place.

Polling places are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, in Virginia for the gubernatorial election, among others. Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam, competing against each other, have been running in a pretty tight race. A new poll done by the Post marks Gillespie only five points behind Northam, closing the 13-point gap from early October.

Although the race is close, many ODU students seem disinterested. “I just vote for whoever my mom votes for,” freshman, Darryl Houston said. In this case, that would be Gillespie, Houston says.

The gubernatorial race’s tightness can be seen at Old Dominion, with 15 out of 60 students surveyed indicating a vote Northam, 15 for Gillespie, and 30 undecided or abstaining. “It’s important to do your research,” ODU junior, Kendal Johnson said, who is still undecided but intends to vote. “There’s a lot of slander that goes into [the race].” Johnson wants to do further research on the candidates before going to her polling place this Tuesday.

Those who do their research can see extensive backgrounds in politics on both sides. Gillespie served as the Chair of the Republican National Committee, and as Counselor to President George W. Bush. He also founded a Washington lobbying firm.

Northam, our current Lieutenant Governor, was a member of the Virginia Senate, serving Norfolk, Virginia Beach and much of the Eastern Shore while representing the 6th district.

“It’s time for a change in Virginia,” argues ODU sophomore Brian Smithgall. “We’ve been Democrat for a long time.”

Smithgall says that he doesn’t want to be a stereotypical voter who doesn’t do research, “but I kinda am. He’s Republican so I’m voting for him.”

ODU freshman, Rebecca Spurrier, differs. “I like the fact that he’s an Army Vet.,” she says, referring to Northam, who served in the Medical Corps. Spurrier voted for Northam in June’s primary election, and looks forward to voting for him again on Tuesday.

Hoping to see a Northam victory affecting positive change on Old Dominion’s campus, Spurrier says, “It would open up a platform on a large conversation, forcing people to discuss issues that aren’t talked about much right now.” Spurrier is referring to social issues, primarily, as she notes that many of her ideals align with Northam’s.

Speaking to the effect that Gillespie’s victory would have on ODU, Smithgall takes a different path. “There would be zero change. If anything, there would be negative backlash like with Trump being elected.”

Senior, and ODU Democrats President, Reginald “Duke” Hawkins Jr. wants students to understand, “It’s important that Northam gets elected because of climate change.” Northam is ODU’s best choice of the two candidates due to his attention to sea level rise, says Hawkins, who notes how susceptible our campus is to flooding.

The ODU College Republicans did not reply to a request for comment.

Polls done with 100 ODU on-campus students, Wednesday Nov. 1.

Do you know when the election is?

62 yes, 38 no

Do you plan on voting?

41 yes, 49 no

Have you voted or do you plan on voting absentee?

16 yes

Do you know where your polling place is?

46 yes, 44 no

Who do you plan on voting for? 60 students surveyed

15 Northam, 15 Gillespie, 30 undecided or not voting