Friday, October 31st, 2014

Voters go to the polls in New Jersey, Virginia

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie greets supporters during a campaign stop in Hillside, N.J., on Nov. 3, 2013. (AP Photo)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie greets supporters during a campaign stop in Hillside, N.J., on Nov. 3, 2013. (AP Photo)

Politics junkies have their eyes on two states today as voters go to the polls: New Jersey and Virginia.

Will Republican Gov. Chris Christie, known for his appeal to swing voters, achieve historic margins against Democrat Barbara Buono, who’s been trailing in polls?

And will former Democratic operative Terry McAuliffe edge out a win against conservative firebrand Ken Cuccinelli?

Some people believe lessons from these races can be applied to 2014 races. We’ll leave it to the pundits to analyze the outcomes.  

Here, we wanted to recap the most notable fact-checks of the campaigns, brought to you by PolitiFact Virginia and PolitiFact New Jersey.

Cuccinelli vs. McAuliffe

The race for Virginia governor has been a bare-knuckled political brawl, with both candidates making repeated attacks against the other.

PolitiFact Virginia found that their claims fared miserably on the Truth-O-Meter this fall. Of the 14 Cuccinelli claims PolitiFact Virginia fact checked, 10 were rated Mostly False or worse. McAuliffe did not fare any better -- 11 of  his 13 rated statements were Mostly False or worse.

McAuliffe hammered Cuccinelli on accepting gifts from political supporters. In a July debate, he repeatedly said a special prosecutor concluded Cuccinelli "should have been prosecuted" but Virginia’s disclosure laws were too weak. But the prosecutor, in fact, said nothing of the kind and completely cleared Cuccinelli of wrongdoing. McAuliffe earned a Pants on Fire.

Cuccinelli accused McAuliffe of making millions from the demise of Global Crossings, a fiberoptics firm that crashed in 2002 and laid off more than 10,000 workers. In fact, McAuliffe made an $8 million profit by selling his Global Crossing shares in 1998 when the stock was near an all-time high. PolitiFact Virginia rated Cuccinelli’s claim False.

McAuliffe repeatedly has tied Cuccinelli to far-right political views, but his specific attacks got negative ratings on the Truth-O-Meter. McAuliffe said Cuccinelli tried to shut down the state government, which earned a Pants on Fire because he had no evidence to back up the claim.

He also said Cuccinelli wanted to make all abortion illegal, even in cases of rape and incest, even to protect a woman’s health." Actually, Cuccinelli has supported an exception when a woman’s life is in danger. PolitiFact Virginia noted, "It’s not easy to overstate Cuccinelli’s objections to abortion, but McAuliffe’s ad manages to do just that. We rate the claim Mostly False."

Cuccinelli, meanwhile, tried to tie McAuliffe to the federal health care law, but also flubbed the facts. Since Obamacare became law, he said, "most of our new jobs have been part-time jobs." He’s flat-out wrong there, though. The rating: False.

Read more fact-checks from PolitiFact Virginia.

Christie vs. Buono

Christie’s campaign said that Buono voted "154 times to raise our taxes -- like the sales tax, the income tax, health care taxes, even small business taxes." PolitiFact New Jersey reviewed the evidence, which included votes made between 2003 and 2007, and rated the claim True.

But Christie wasn’t quite as accurate when touting his own record on taxes. Christie said, "Not one tax has been raised since I've been governor." Christie hasn’t increased the tax rates of New Jersey’s major revenue generators (the gross income tax, the business tax and the sales tax). But he has cut tax credit programs, which means some New Jerseyans had to pay higher tax bills. We rated the claim Half True.

Buono, meanwhile, attacked Christie on jobs. In May, a radio ad from her campaign complained that New Jersey has "400,000 unemployed. One of the worst jobless rates in the country." Buono was right that nearly 400,000 New Jerseyans were out of work, but fewer people were unemployed than when Christie became governor. We rated the statement Half True.

Read more fact-checks from PolitiFact New Jersey.