According to election handicapper Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the energy in the Virginia governor race has completely shifted towards Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin. In their “final thoughts” column just hours before election day, they changed their prediction from the “Leans Democratic” column to “Leans Republican.
“Youngkin has the enthusiasm, the environment, the history, and perhaps even the issues (given his focus on education and its increasing salience in polling),” they say on CenterForPolitics.com.
“McAuliffe has the state’s Democratic lean in his favor. However, we do feel we owe it to readers to push this race one way or the other and not just move it to a Toss-up rating at the end,” they added. “So we’re moving from Leans Democratic to Leans Republican.”
In their writeup, they also give a heads up about what to expect in terms of the speed of returns coming in. They note that the mail in results will likely come in quicker than the 2020 election:
“A couple of additional things to watch tomorrow: Because of changes to Virginia law, mail-in and early ballots will be tabulated more quickly than in 2020, so instead of the Republicans jumping out to an early lead, Democrats are likely to. Then it will be a question of whether Youngkin catches up to and passes McAuliffe, and there may be late drama depending on the rhythm of the vote count. Also, for all of the focus on the suburbs, keep an eye on the red, rural counties in central and western Virginia. The turnout and the GOP performance in those areas are a very important part of this story too. So too is Democratic turnout and performance in heavily Black areas, particularly in the Greater Richmond and Hampton Roads regions. In an election that has the potential to be extremely close, it’s never just one place or one group that decides the outcome,” they said.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball are the only ones who think Younkin is going to reign victorious on Tuesday. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also believes he will win.
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