Republican Glenn Youngkin was elected governor of Virginia on Tuesday, defeating Democrat Terry McCauliffe in a closely fought election, The Associated Press and other news organizations projected early Wednesday. Youngkin's current lead is 2.5 percentage points, but the final margin is expected to be just under 2 points after all the votes are counted. McAuliffe led in the polls until a few weeks ago, and Youngkin will be the first Republican elected governor in Virginia since 2009.
Republicans are calling Youngkin's fleece-vest suburban dad campaign a model for winning back the suburbs in 2022, after losing them under former President Donald Trump, but Youngkin's margin of victory came largely from big Republican turnout in rural areas and — NBC News' Sahil Kapur reports, based on exit polls — from white women without college degrees.
President Biden won Virginia by 10 points in 2020, and the general consensus is that McAuliffe's loss is a bad omen for the Democratic Party going into 2022. On the other hand, the party that holds the White House usually loses the Virginia governor race. The last exception was in 2013, when Democrat Barack Obama was president and McAuliffe was elected governor.