|Robert Sarvis speaks to students at UVA|
WDBJ-TV, the media cosponsor of the debate, announced on October 10 that Sarvis, the Libertarian Party's nominee, would not be invited to participate because he had failed to achieve a threshold, set by the Democratic and Republican candidates in consultation with the events cosponsors, of a RealClearPolitics average of 10 percent in public opinion polls.
According to the Washington Post, WDBJ has asked the McAuliffe and Cuccinelli camps to reconsider because the station has borne the brunt of negative backlash over the decision. "As of Saturday evening," the Post's Ben Pershing reported, "Sarvis’s poll average on the RealClearPolitics Web site was 9.8 percent."
Early last week, UVA political scientist Larry Sabato told me that he would probably have included Sarvis in the debate if he were running it.
“You know, I understand because I've been in the position of running debates, but when I turned down a third-party candidate it was because he was nowhere near the ten percent level.”
Sarvis, he pointed out, “has been over the 10 percent level in a number of surveys and they all have a margin of error.” He was showing an average of 9 percent on the day the debate decision was made.
“I've got news for you: there's a two or three percent margin of error and that suggests that he could just as easily be over 10 as under 10. I'm surprised that there hasn't been more of an outcry that he's been excluded from the debate.”
Speaking in the Newcomb Theater, Sarvis fielded questions from an audience made up mostly of students but which also included faculty and staff as well as Charlottesville-area voters.
Derek Quizon, a reporter for the Daily Progress, interviewed a couple of students who attended the event:
Kyle Butler, a second-year math and economics major, said the national debt could give the party the push it needs, as slavery pushed the Republicans to the forefront in the 19th century.
The question is, how long will it take? Butler said he’s not sure.
“It’s really hard to tell,” Butler said. “When people see that debt is a real problem and they acknowledge it.”
Dylan Brewer, a fourth-year student majoring in economics and foreign affairs, said that moment is years away. But he’ll keep voting Libertarian with the hope that the party will gain momentum – and people will have a viable third option on Election Day.
“A lot of people have a false sense that voting is about picking the lesser of two evils,” Brewer said. “I don’t think that embodies the democratic spirit.”
Here is the video of Sarvis speaking at UVA, beginning with opening remarks, followed by a Q&A with the audience.
The same night that Robert Sarvis spoke at UVA, his wife, Dr. Astrid Sarvis, posted on YouTube an impassioned plea for including her husband in the final gubernatorial debate. The video quickly went viral (relatively speaking) and as of this writing, it has been viewed almost 6,000 times with 183 likes (and one dislike).