Each year, on the “Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November,” I go to my local polling place to vote. This year was no different. My lot is cast. Now I wait ’til evening, when the results start to come in.
On Virginians’ ballots this year are the governor, lieutenant governor, state attorney general, members of the House of Delegates, and various local offices and ballot issues. These are important. In some ways, they are more important than the big-tickets presidential and congressional elections that tend to get a lot more attention. So, if you are an eligible voter, go vote.
But first, take some time and do some research. I encourage you to read my endorsements, which explain why I voted the way I did. But read other peoples’ too. Read the candidates’ websites, watch some of their stump speeches (if you can find them), read opinion articles and editorials, and talk to your friends. And don’t pay too much attention to party lines and hyperbolic ads.
Use your head, get informed, and make your own choices.
It’s always risky to try to predict election outcomes, especially when it’s as close as the poll averages and analysts say Virginia’s gubernatorial race is. As of this writing, FiveThirtyEight’s poll average puts Glenn Youngkin (R) ahead by only 1 point, RealClearPolitics’s poll average puts Youngkin ahead by 1.7, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball ranks the race as ‘leans Republican.’
Each of these are a marked change from where they were only a week ago, when each of these analysts had former Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) holding a consistent-but-narrow lead.
A significant difficulty for prognosticators is the presence of a third-party candidate: Princess Blanding (Liberation). Many of the polls that play-in to the poll average methodologies don’t even have her listed, which means they don’t accurately reflect the options on the real ballot. Worse, those that do have her listed give us wildly inconsistent results. Recent polls with Blanding as an option have her performing as low as 1% and as high as 5%. Blanding’s Liberation Party, which is off to McAuliffe’s left, is likely to pull much more from McAuliffe’s side than Youngkin’s (as opposed to the unrelated Libertarian Party, which tends to pull voters roughly equally from the two major parties).
However Blanding performs, her presence on the ballot will likely help Youngkin and hurt McAuliffe . . . it’s just a question of how much. If Youngkin’s lead is real—and I think it is—then it’s unlikely that Blanding will serve as a real spoiler; in that case, Youngkin would likely have won in a direct head-to-head anyway. But I can imagine a scenario where Youngkin wins very narrowly only because Blanding siphoned-off a percentage point or two from McAuliffe. And that could make things very interesting down-ballot; if we imagine that most Blanding voters will vote for the Democrats for lieutenant governor and state attorney general, it’s at least possible that we end up with a Republican governor and Democrats in both of the other statewide offices.
Anyway . . . time to put my imaginary money where my mouth is:
Most likely outcome: Republican sweep of the statewide offices, but by a fairly narrow margin. It’s not a blowout, but it’s a comfortable, indisputable win.
Second most likely: Essentially a tie for governor, with one or the other winning by the skin of his teeth. In this scenario, the down-ticket statewide races will either be similarly tied (if Blanding does very poorly in the governor’s race), or the Democrats will win them (if Blanding does well and splits Democratic voters). This is the scenario where a party split in the statewide offices is possible. It’s also the scenario with recounts, wide opportunity for fraud, and a lot of headaches for the people of the commonwealth.
Unlikely, but not impossible: Democrats maintain comfortable control of the three statewide offices.
House of Delegates
There’s virtually no reliable polling or detailed political analysis about what’s going to happen in the Virginia House of Delegates. Right now it’s at a 55/45 split with the Democrats in the majority. So this is going to be sort-of a shot in the dark.
I think it’s very likely that Republicans make gains, following on the coattails of Youngkin’s good performance at the top of the ticket. Even if he loses, it’s likely to be a narrow loss and the overall vote share for House races is likely to be close to 50/50, which will tend to move the overall split closer to the middle than it is. My guess is that, even if the Republicans lose the statewide offices, they still gain at least a couple of seats. And if the Republicans do very well in the statewide offices, it’s at least possible that the Republicans regain a majority in the House. I wouldn’t bet on it though.
Most likely outcome: Republicans gain something like 3-5 seats.
Second most likely: Republicans gain something like 1-2 seats.
Unlikely, but not impossible: The balance stays the same, or the Democrats gain a seat.
For my specific race in the 87th district, incumbent Delegate Suhas Subramanyam (D-VA 87th) won two years ago with 62% of the vote . . . so it seems unlikely that he’ll lose his reelection campaign. I think it’s almost guaranteed that he underperforms compared to 2019 though. My gut feeling (with no supporting data) is that he’ll get something like 55-58%.
As always, you can find live coverage of the election here on Off on a Tangent. I will be reporting results for Governor of Virginia, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Attorney General of Virginia, House of Delegates 87th District, and the three Loudoun County bond referendums, and liveblogging anything notable that comes up.
Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET and continues until either all of the races I’m following are called, or at least until 1:00 a.m. If live coverage concludes before all races are called, then it will continue as time permits in the coming days (or weeks, if necessary).