In the 2010 California gubernatorial race, Republican Meg Whitman suffered political damage because she had sometimes failed to vote. Primary opponent Steve Poizner and Democratic candidate Jerry Brown both pounced. George Skelton explained in The Los Angeles Times:
Poll director Mark DiCamillo offered likely voters a long list of characteristics — or "attributes" — that fit one or both of the candidates, without mentioning their names. He asked people whether they would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate with such a characteristic. Then he calculated the net positive or negative effect of each trait.
The biggest negative, by far, was if a candidate for high office "hasn't voted in many past statewide elections." That fits Whitman, who has acknowledged and apologized for a dismal voting record. Opponents accuse her of not voting during a 28-year span.
"I was focused on raising a family, on my husband's career and we moved many, many times," she told reporters last year in her only public explanation, adding, "It is no excuse. My voting record, my registration record, is unacceptable."Specifically, 54 percent said nonvoting would make them less likely to vote for a candidate, 4 percent more likely, for a net negative of 50 percent.
Now, another political novice turns out to have a spotty voting record. Robert Costa reports at National Review Online:
Actress Ashley Judd is active in Democratic politics, but her voting history is spotty. According to public records, she did not vote in several elections over the past two decades.
Judd, a resident of Williamson County, Tenn., voted in the 1996 election via absentee ballot, but did not vote again until the 2004 general election — an eight-year gap. She then sat out another four years, before returning to vote in the 2008 Democratic primary.