For Augusta County native Matt Wertman, the real work in the Virginia governor's race on college campuses started two months ago.
"We've been on all the major campuses in Virginia trying to assess which way students lean,'' said Wertman, a University of Virginia architecture student and chairman of the College Republican Federation of Virginia, which has chapters on 30 Virginia campuses.
Wertman said now that college supporters of Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli have been identified, the followup action is to knock on dorm doors and make sure the students vote on election day.
There have been football tailgate parties for Cuccinelli at college campuses, and the Republican candidate appeared with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at a Liberty University rally Saturday night.
Cuccinelli's Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, has 12 campus coordinators across Virginia working to get the youth vote out, said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin.
It's two weeks before Virginia elects a new governor and both Cuccinelli and McAuliffe are working furiously to get out the vote. On some Virginia campuses, it seems quieter than it did four years ago when the Bob McDonnell campaign for governor crafted an elaborate outreach to Virginia college students that included tailgate parties and other activities. James Madison University Political Scientist Bob Roberts said 2013 doesn't resemble 2009 on the Harrisonburg campus.
"There is nothing on our campus compared to four years ago,'' Roberts said. He said part of the reason could be the profile of the likely voter and the use of social media by both campaigns.
"They (campaigns) have focused their efforts on likely voters, a more highly educated group of citizens who are not as young,'' he said. Roberts said social media helps reach college students more quickly.
"The students who registered last year are being inundated with Facebooks and emails,'' Roberts said. He added that conservative students are interested in the federal deficit and government spending while more moderate students focus on social issues such as gay rights.
Geoffrey Skelley, the media relations coordinator for the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said the campaigns are using the partisan affiliated groups like Wertman's. He said while the Center for Politics has not done a detailed analysis of college-age voters, recent polls have shown that McAuliffe has about a 20-point lead over Cuccinelli among voters 18 to 29. And Skelley said social media can help when the interest in an election is not as high.
"Given the lack of interest, social media is important for campaigns because it's a way for them to get the attention of young voters,'' he said.
Wertman said he is aware of a significant social media effort. He predicts the ads sent to students will have "a huge impact'' on the overall youth vote.
Megan DiMaiolo, president of the JMU College Democrats, said her organization has focused on campus voter registration. She said a candidate-based debate on Oct. 29 involving college Republicans, Democrats and the Madison Liberty Club will focus on all three candidates in the gubernatorial race, including Libertarian Robert Sarvis.
DiMaiolo said excitement level is not the same for the governor's race as it was with last year's presidential race. But her organization is working to get students involved.
"The clubs and people on campus have been stressing how important the governor's race is,'' she said.
At Bridgewater College, the interest has been more partisan, said Bridgewater Student Body President Joe Macklin.
He said while there is curiosity about both Cuccinelli and McAuliffe, "most people are relatively apathetic about the upcoming election." Macklin, responding by email, said both major party candidates have their flaws.
"Some people my age that would usually vote Republican are turned off by Attorney General Cuccinelli's social conservatism, while others are turned off by Mr. McAuliffe's lack of experience in terms of holding office,'' Macklin said.
Macklin said both candidates have used social media to connect with Bridgewater voters. But he said the overall tone of both campaigns has had a souring effect.
"We get fed up with negative advertisements on television just like older people do, and we would like to see candidates in the future fight cleaner political battles,'' Macklin said.
At Mary Baldwin College, students working toward college credit in civic engagement, political science and other disciplines will stage a live broadcast of the governor's election Nov. 5 that will be streamed to the college's Miller Chapel.
Kristina Lee, one of the students involved in the project, said she thinks the students from Virginia on the Mary Baldwin campus are interested in the race. Lee, a Buckingham County native and a senior, said she is undecided about which candidate to support.
She said she likes that both candidates have provided some plans for education in the commonwealth. "I like that both want to focus on our education system and connect it the workforce and with the community colleges,'' Lee said.
Mary Baldwin student Nichole Kennedy, a junior from Tappahannock, is running the war room the night of the election broadcast. She is eager to see the outcome. While she is rooting for McAuliffe, she is intrigued by the support for Libertarian Robert Sarvis. She also wonders what the voters think about Cuccinelli's conservative views. "It will be interesting to see which direction we go,'' she said of the outcome.
Macklin said despite the youth of college students, they are interested not in campaign tactics but in how the candidates would govern if elected Virginia governor.
"We just want to know what you as a candidate can do instead,'' he said.