RICHMOND, Va. — The polls closed in Virginia at 7 p.m. and the counting of ballots is underway. To see who is leading in the race for Governor of Virginia and other statewide and local races, click here.
Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie squared off in a battle that will provide an early look at how the first 10 months of the Trump presidency have reshaped American politics.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist, has served as the state’s lieutenant governor the past four years under Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Gillespie is a one-time chairman of the RNC and counselor to former President George W. Bush who nearly defeated Senator Mark Warner in a 2014 race few expected would be close.
Republicans nationally are closely watching to see if Gillespie’s approach works or whether he got too close to Trump for suburban voters’ comfort, or strayed too far away from the President to win over his rural, white base.
Northam, meanwhile, has struggled to motivate the black voters who make up the Democratic base. Former President Barack Obama urged Democrats not to get “complacent” in non-presidential elections during an October rally with Northam in Richmond.
The Virginia race carries national importance as a gauge of how voters are reacting to Trump a year into his presidency — and also because the state is a proving ground for both parties’ approaches in the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats hope to take control of the House and Republicans seek to expand their 52-48 Senate majority.
Two sets of polling data released days before the election by Roanoke College and Rasmussen indicates that the two candidates are in a dead heat. Northam, who outraised Gillespie, has led in most polls since the June primary.
Libertarian candidate Cliff Hyra polls at two percent support and six percent of voters remained undecided.
All 100 Virginia House of Delegates are up for election and have brought a lot of new contenders to the field. To grab control of the chamber, Democrats need to gain 17 seats, while Republicans need to gain one seat to obtain a veto-proof super majority.