Morning Poll: Local Political Debates

by ARLnow.com October 6, 2011 at 9:11 am 2,446 19 Comments

On his blog yesterday, Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey reported that some residents have taken note of Republican state Senate candidate Caren Merrick’s propensity for skipping local candidate forums.

“Merrick, who is running against Democrat Barbara Favola for the 31st state Senate seat, has declined to appear at a number of joint appearances in Arlington,” McCaffrey wrote. “It’s happened so often, it must be a strategy rather than a series of coincidences.”

While skipping neighborhood-level political debates may not seem on its face like a great strategy, one wonders how much damage it could really do.

To what degree is your local vote influenced by watching a candidate forum or debate?

  • People in Arlington are so politically polarized that there are very few who are going to be swayed heavily one way or another by a debate.

  • ArlForester

    Not at all. I am a Republican therefore I have no voice in Arlington.

  • JMB

    True dat. You could run Joseph Goebbels as a Democrat against Jesus Christ as the Republican, and the vote would still split 2/3 – 1/3 (the reverse is also true, I hasten to add).

    • HankIII

      I believe that is true, so not sure why Republican even try at all (although many times they don’t even field a candidate). Doesn’t the Green Party usually get more votes in Arlington than the Republican ? I bet Jello Biafra could give the Dems a run.

  • Aaron

    We live in a community of professional politickers. They know who pays their salaries. As a result, all that matters to 65% of the population is the little letter that shows up after the candidate’s name.

  • charlie

    most people are smart enough to make up their minds without some silly neighborhood debate where 12 people show up who have also already made up their minds but are coming because they are “told to” by the party insiders.

  • KalashniKEV

    Babs sounds like such a simpleton in the article.
    “That message is key to Favola’s strategy — defining Merrick as an ally of Cuccinelli and conservative groups”
    “She is listed on the Virginia Tea Party Alliance Web site,” Favola said of Merrick. “She definitely has ties to the tea party.”

    Reaching out to press that button only works on the wild eyed, frothy mouthed libs. For the more mainstream voters she’s going to have to come up with a reason to actually vote FOR her.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    Guess if you answered “Not at all” you just vote your party line – that what’s wrong with American politics – and what the founding father’s never really anticipated.

  • Elliot Manhole

    The County Board should stop pretending that the neighborhood associations reflect the population. For my neighborhood association, only a handful of permanent cranks show up, a true quorum is not in attendance, and nothing except complaining happens. The candidate nights bring out a few more bodies, but it is still an embarrassment for anyone to think the neighborhood associations are relevant.

    • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

      They are useful when the county board wants to pretend that they are following “the will of the people” and the local civic association is controlled by ACDC lapdogs…….

    • Miriam

      You are turly enlightened. You must attend your civic association debate and demand to be heard. The snow ball questions are designed to steer citizens attention away from the real issues. Audrey Clement is on brave lady. She deserves your vote!

    • Smoke_Jaguar4

      Yet it is those same “cranks” who will show up on election day. Despite what they claim, elected officials don’t represent everyone in their district, just the majority of the people that voted for them. Given the average election turn out is ~30%, this means they represent just 15% of the population (and probably less than that, for not everyone is eligible to vote).

  • Miriam

    In her favor Merrick did say she would support a ban on single use Styrofoam. I say she is no dummy.

    • Aaron

      No single-use Styrofoam? There goes the endorsement from Jon Huntsman.

  • John Andre

    First time I recall having a significant GOP challenge in Arlington County since Dorothy Grotos was on the County Board…probably due to the addition of areas outside Arlington to our state Senate district.

  • steve85

    Any body that is associated with that crazy dude Cuccinelli(whatever how you spell his name) shouldnt have a chance to win.

  • Loocy

    I may not eagerly seek out news of every candidate forum in the area to find out the details, but I do go to forums sponsored by my neighborhood or my interest groups. In addition, I am most definitely influenced by news that a candidate is intentionally skipping forums. To me, that shows a level of dismissiveness of which I am quite wary. Elected officials are supposed to find out what their constituents are concerned about. Someone who doesn’t think it is worth her time to go to these forums is probably not the best person for elected office.

  • DBCooper


  • Hank Pfeffer

    NONE of the local candidates are interested in talking to me.
    Or debating with me, for that matter, or even listening to me.

    Last week I contacted all four San Diego mayoral candidates offices and politely requested an informal call or meeting. I am an Occupy San Diego Troublehealer, and NONE of the candidates have responded. I have contacted numerous public officials and not one has had even a low level flunky give me a call. I make it clear than I am non-violent and legal, except for occasional non-destructive act of civil disobedience.

    It makes me wonder why they don’t want to talk. For quite some time I’ve been saying things like “If we’re not going to kill each other, we need to talk.” I ask to explain why I think we all need to cooperate to prevent disaster.

    I know all of them would rather focus on “business as usual” but I think the sky is falling down. We have a whole bunch of big, inter-connected problems coming to a head, all pretty much at once: ecology, demographics, drugs, education, economic collapse through abuse of the system by insiders, child abuse, etc., etc..

    Politicians, ignoring something doesn’t make it go away.

    “Business as usual” is over. It isn’t because of Occupy.


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