Virginia is one of two states electing a new governor today.
Democrat Ralph Northam is facing off against Republican Ed Gillespie in what is expected to be a razor-thin race that has attracted national attention and drew the opinions of both President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama. Northam and Gillespie are competing to replace Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat.
Here is a brief rundown about the race between Northam and Gillespie, what to watch for as the results come in starting at 7pm ET, and a live tally of the results courtesy of Decision Desk HQ. (Some browsers may need to refresh for the latest results to appear.)
Update: Ralph Northam, a Democrat, beat Republican Ed Gillespie to be the next governor of Virginia. Democrat Phil Murphy has also won the New Jersey gubernatorial race against Republican Kim Guadagno.
Who is Ralph Northam?
Northam, 58, served as McAuliffe’s lieutenant governor and an Army doctor and pediatric neurologist. He was elected lieutenant governor in 2013. Northam entered politics in 2007 as a Democrat, but he voted twice for former President George W. Bush. His past political preferences were brought up during the primaries, where he defeated Tom Perriello, a Sen. Bernie Sanders-backed candidate.
Who is Ed Gillespie?
Gillespie, 56, served as the Republican National Committee chairman and lobbyist. He also worked as a counselor to former President George W. Bush. Gillespie was the Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate race in 2014 and almost defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.
Anyone else on the ballot?
Yep. Cliff Hyra, a patent attorney, is running for the Libertarian Party.
What’s the wild card?
The race is expected to be much closer than Tuesday’s other gubernatorial race in New Jersey. While Democrat Phil Murphy is expected to win in New Jersey by a healthy margin, Real Clear Politics shows that the Virginia race is essentially a toss-up. The website has Northam up by 3.3 points on average across a number of polls, winning the governor’s race with 47.7 percent of the vote. That lead falls firmly in the margin of error of most polls.
Both Virginia and New Jersey’s races are viewed as the first definitive showing of how voters are reacting the policies of Trump and his administration. Will they continue to vote for Republicans like they did in 2016, or is the trend moving in favor of the Democrats, as some polls have shown? Virginia is the only southeastern state Trump lost in the 2016 presidential election.
Why does this matter?
President Donald Trump has weighed in heavily on the race. Earlier on Tuesday, he urged people on Twitter to vote for Gillespie, adding that Northam “will allow crime to be rampant in Virginia.” The president also slammed Northam for being “weak on crime, weak on our GREAT VETS,” and for being “anti-Second Amendment.”
But Gillespie isn’t the only one getting support from major political names. Obama stumped for Northam last month. During his speech, Obama lambasted the current political climate as “nasty” and said that Northam could help “bring people together.”
The race has been peppered with negative ads as both candidates try to convince voters in the run-up to the election.
Virginia election results live: Ed Gillespie vs. Ralph Northam
Polls close at 7pm ET. You can watch live results of Virginia’s election below, powered by Decision Desk HQ: