Virginia election results: When will we know the winner of gubernatorial race?

Polls close at 7pm and most of the votes are expected to be tallied by about 9pm, but given the closeness of the race it could be a long night

Bevan Hurley
Tuesday 02 November 2021 20:57
PULSE OF THE PEOPLE: Polls open in Virginia
Leer en Español

Voters in Virginia go to the polls to select their next governor, in the first major battleground election since 2020’s fractious presidential race.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe will be aiming to defy history as he attempts to become governor for a second time; only once in 50 years has a candidate from the party that holds the White House won the off-year election.

Republican Glenn Youngkin has seen his poll numbers surge as he sought to make culture war issues such as critical race theory a central feature of the race.

FiveThirtyEight’s polling average shows Mr Youngkin with a slim lead of 47.9 per cent, compared to Mr McAuliffe’s 47 per cent.

The polls will close at 7pm EST, and a large number of results could be reported straight away, according to NBC pollster Steve Kornacki.

But given how tight the race is likely to be, it could take several hours before the winner is declared.

Some local polling officials estimate that votes cast in-person on the day will be tallied by 9pm.

President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 percentage points in the 2020 election, and the state has been trending blue in recent years.

But the Republican candidate has capitalised on national issues such as the economy, supply chain issues, and the Democrat Party’s inability to pass critical infrastructure and social spending legislation.

A school bathroom sexual assault case in Loudon County was seized on by right despite there being no evidence that the attacker’s gender was a factor.

Changes to how votes are counted are likely to impact the timing of the results.

Virginia’s General Assembly has changed its election laws this year to require election officials to begin preprocessing absentee ballots at least seven days before Election Day.

During last year’s presidential election, officials only began processing most of the absentee ballots after polls closed, resulting in lengthy delays in results being known.

The first ballots counted, in-person votes cast on Election Day, heavily favoured Donald Trump. Absentee ballots tend to favour Democrats.

Supporters wait for Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin to arrive for a (Loudoun Parents Matter Rally) campaign event in Leesburg, Virginia

That meant once voting stations had processed absentee ballots, Mr Trump’s lead vanished at around midnight and Mr Biden ended up winning the state by 10 points.

With the changes to how votes are counted, Mr McAuliffe could take an early lead, but once in-person votes are tallied polls suggest the race will come down to the wire.

Mr McAuliffe was a healthylbusinessman and longtime Democratic fundraiser who won the Virginia governor’s race in 2013, the only time in the last half a century that a member of the same party as the president has won the off-year election.

He called on Barack Obama, Mr Biden, Kamala Harris and other Democratic stalwarts to campaign for him.

This was in stark contrast to Mr Youngkin, who wouldn’t say if he wanted Mr Trump to join him on the campaign rail.

Mr Youngkin is seen as an establishment Republican, and spent 25 years as in private equity before entering politics.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in