Denial: "We can't conclude anything until the investigations are over, right?" said Robert Fini, a 56-year-old technology project manager.
Anger: "It shows poor moral character," said Mike Smith, a 32-year-old government contractor. "They should know better. It's not just corruption but the appearance of corruption."
Bargaining: "I wish I had more than two candidates," said Leslie Campbell, a 53-year-old homemaker. "I wish there was a third choice."
Depression: "It's awful to be so apathetic," said Guarav Sirin, a 40-year-old director at a technology company. "I probably won't vote is what it comes down to, unfortunately. What difference does it make?"
And finally, acceptance: "There's always going to be scandals. They're politicians, right?" sighed Ben Tuben, a 23-year-old business analyst. "It's discouraging, but I will still vote."
The candidates were described alternately as "a jackass," "a dirty politician," "sketchy," and more awkwardly, as "just not good candidates." Not a single voter was enthusiastic about either nominee, foreshadowing participation even lower than the typically depressed turnout in a non-presidential election in an odd-numbered year.
"The ads absolutely turn me off," said Laura Essick, a 59-year-old executive assistant. "I just won't pay any attention."
A lower turnout is widely viewed as bad news for McAuliffe, who is depending on the young voters, women, and minorities who helped President Obama carry the state twice. Gubernatorial voters tend to be older and less diverse; those groups tend to vote Republican. A number of voters interviewed said they would likely be forced to fall back on their party allegiance to make a choice, leaving independent voters feeling particularly bewildered.
What's more, the deluge of attack ads at a time when voters are barely tuned in has left many with hazy recollections. "Something about borrowing money and not paying back loans?" asked Jasmine Smith, a 30-year-old technology consultant. "I got to make sure I make the right decision based on the facts."
"Isn't Cuccinelli the one who took money for his daughter's wedding?" asked Pete Baroody, a 35-year-old teacher. Told that it was Gov. Bob McDonnell's daughter — not Cuccinelli's — who got financial help for her wedding from businessman Johnnie Williams, Baroody sighed. "It's really confusing."
Such confusion doesn't bode well for Cuccinelli, who has gone to great lengths to try to distance himself from the governor. Most recently, he's called for a special legislative session to take up ethics reform, a request that the governor turned down. But mostly both candidates have fought fire with fire, trying to deflect attention away from their own scandal by drawing attention to the scandal plaguing the other guy. Cuccinelli's latest ad on the GreenTech investigation is literally titled "Scandal." The response from the McAuliffe campaign, without a trace of irony: "Ken Cuccinelli Trying to Distract from Ongoing Scandals."