A bitter, divisive race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is over and it turned out to be a nailbiter. McAuliffe defeated Cuccinelli in a surprisingly razor-thin 47-46 percent victory to become Virginia’s next governor, breaking a long Virginia tradition going back to 1977 of voting for a governor from the opposing party of the sitting president.
Virginia was one of two states choosing governors Tuesday, along with New Jersey – where Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., was re-elected – and a slew of local elections also took place across the country including elections for big-city mayors and various state ballot initiatives.
According to exit polls, both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli did very well among their own partisans – each getting more than nine in 10 votes from members of their own parties. Cuccinelli had a nine-point edge among independents, who make up three in 10 voters in Virginia. But McAuliffe did better than Cuccinelli in getting out his base: slightly more voters described themselves as Democrats (37 percent) than Republicans (32 percent).
McAuliffe also won among voters under 45 and college graduates – both groups that McDonnell won four years ago – and he led among moderates (22 points) and women (9 points).
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