Outcome of Races for Governor and House Control in Virginia Will Define Election Day 2021

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There are races for elected statewide offices and for the House of Delegates, the Virginia State House. By winning the governorship or taking control of the House of Delegates, Republicans can break the Democratic state government trifecta. The Virginia State Senate will next be contested in 2023.

Polls close at 7:00 PM ET.


Virginia is the only state not allowing governors to serve consecutive terms. Democrat Terry McAuliffe is looking to reclaim the office he held from 2014-2018. Businessman Glenn Youngkin is the Republican nominee. 

This will be the most closely-watched race in the country Tuesday. Whether or not it is actually the case, the outcome will be seen by many as a litmus test for Democratic prospects in 2022. If Youngkin prevails, it would mark a sharp reversal from Joe Biden's 10-point win here just last November. Additionally, Republicans have not won a statewide race in Virginia since 2009.

McAuliffe has led for most of the campaign. However, the race has tightened considerably in recent weeks, with education emerging as the dominant issue. In the days leading up to the election, Youngkin edged ever-so-slightly ahead in both the FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics polling averages. On Monday, Sabato's Crystal Ball moved the race from Lean Democratic to Lean Republican. Cook Political ($) and Inside Elections have it as a toss-up.

Also working against McAuliffe is history: In modern times, aside from 2013, the party controlling the White House has lost the Virginia governorship. There is also a third party candidate, Princess Blanding, campaigning on racial justice. While she's not likely to see more than 1-2% support, those votes are more likely to come from those who might otherwise have supported McAuliffe. 

Lieutenant Governor

Unlike the top job, the lieutenant governor can seek reelection. However, incumbent Justin Fairfax (D) unsuccessfully ran for governor. The Democratic nominee is Delegate Hala Ayala, while the Republican nominee is former Delegate Winsome Sears. The winner will be the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor of Virginia.

In an era where ticket splitting has become increasingly rare, the results here will likely track fairly closely to those of the governor's race. However, in a very close election, as both these are shaping up to be, a small difference could lead to a split result. The last time this happened in Virginia was in 2005, when now Sen. Tim Kaine (D) was elected governor, while voters chose Bill Bolling (R) as lieutenant.

Attorney General

Incumbent Democratic Mark Herring (D) is seeking a third term against Republican Delegate Jason Miyares. In 2017, Herring was reelected with 53% of the vote, closely mirroring the 54% received by Democrat Ralph Northam at the top of the ticket.

Perhaps owing to incumbency, Herring has generally seen modestly higher support in polls that sample all three of these statewide races. (See, for example, this Suffolk University poll).  However, this race has also tightened in recent weeks and could go either way.  

House of Delegates

Democrats took control of the Virginia House of Delegates in the 2019 elections for the first time in over 20 years. The party holds a 55-45 edge. Republicans need to gain six seats to take back control. A gain of five would result in an evenly split House.

Chaz Nuttycombe, founder of CNalysis, a site that forecasts state legislative elections, rates the battle for control a toss-up. From his final forecast: "We have Republicans as the slight favorites to earn a net gain of 7 seats in the House of Delegates. That being said, many of these were tough calls, and that figure could reasonably be smaller than expected. Regardless, a GOP net gain is expected."

In terms of what to keep an eye on, Nuttycombe sees the 13 districts listed below as the most competitive. The seven in the first row are Democratic-held seats slightly favored to flip.  

Rating Incumbent Party Districts
Tilt Republican Democratic 10, 12, 28, 73, 75, 83, 85
Tilt Democratic Democratic 72
Tilt Republican Republican 66
Lean Democratic Democratic 21, 40 ,68
Lean Republican Republican 27

Select 'Change Race' to see live results for a specific district.  

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