Who knows what will come in November

Published 12:34 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Last Tuesday, some voters went to the polls to select the candidates for this November’s election. It is amazing that the pollsters and pundits proudly claim to know what will happen going into an election and then, right or wrong, some of them tell us why what happened. Sometimes they may be right, but other times they will be proven just as wrong as they were about what happened on primary day.

Sadly, their misreading of the intent of what voters may or may not do can, and often does to some extent, change the outcome. Maybe as Congress looks into the Russians trying to affect our elections, we should also look into the pollsters and media effects in elections.

In the case of the Democrats, the pollsters declared that former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello was leading by eight percentage points a week from election day, yet he lost by double digits.

Was that poll used to scare the Ralph Northam supporters to come to vote while lulling the Perriello supporters that they need not bother to vote?

Likewise, with the Republican candidates, the pollsters led the public to believe that Ed Gillespie was going to easily win. Did that affect Gillespie supporters need to vote? Were they less likely to vote?  At the same time irritating the supporters of Corey Stewart, driving them to make greater efforts to show up.

With no answer to any of these questions, the pundits now confidently assure us of their knowledge of what will happen in November.

A week ago, they assured us that the Democrats were hopelessly divided. This week they assure us that they are all united. The Bernie Sanders faction and the Clinton factors are now united.

According to the pundits, prior to the election, most Republicans were united behind Gillespie, but now they tell us the party is in complete disarray and will never be able to get behind their nominee.

What changed?  You, the voters, did what you chose to do, not what they expected you to do. The polls could have been poorly done, or those polled could have simply not been honest when answering the phone polls. But just as easily, voters’ actions could just as well have been affected by the news stories and the polls.

Pundits, reading tea leaves, believe that the fact that more Democrats came out for their candidates than Republicans did for their candidates clearly shows that Virginia is now a Democrat state based on that turnout.

Other ways to look at the numbers is this:  The belief that Democrats would have a tight race and the Republicans a runaway race, might have changed turnout one way or the other.

Another consideration, the Democratic Primary was a race to far liberal positions; it remained fairly friendly with few personal attacks. On the Republican side, the constant personal attacks on Gillespie in ads had to have left many voters in doubt and confused.

This could easily have led some to think, “I will let others decide the best candidate.”

My conclusion and advice to the voters after all is said and done is this: Listen to what each candidate is saying.

Look at what the candidates have focused on to get their party’s nomination.

Vote for those candidates that best represent your values and views in November.

Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg County in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.