More than one million people have already cast ballots in the Virginia governor's race being watched as an early indicator for 2022 and beyond – in a race certain to be viewed as a barometer for President Biden's political strength.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican investor Glenn Youngkin have been hammering each other for months in the contest, with the bitter 2020 election and former President Donald Trump serving as the backdrop.

Polls close at 7 pm in the state. But in a twist from 2020, the state will first start announcing the results of absentee ballots. That comes after the state General Assembly passed a new law requiring election officials to start processing those votes a week before election day. 

That could have a pronounced effect on public perception of the count, even if all the ballots would get counted anyway. Former President Donald Trump, who continues to make claims of election fraud, has repeatedly remarked about how his Election Night lead in some states 'disappeared.' In many states, officials began or were required to count Election Day votes first, then started running through their mail-in ballots. 

With control of a 'purple' state and a potential bellwether on the line, 1.1 million Virginia voters turned in ballots by the deadline last weekend.

Democrat Joe Biden won that race by 10 percentage points, but this year analysts are watching the state to see what how Democrats fare in a lower-turnout off-year election, with Biden's overall popularity substantially lower than it was a year ago.

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has been climbing in the polls. A win would have implications for President Joe Biden and the political prospects of former President Donald Trump

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has been climbing in the polls. A win would have implications for President Joe Biden and the political prospects of former President Donald Trump

Glenn Youngkin campaigns in Virginia ahead of Governor's race
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Terry McAuliffe participates in trick or treating in Virginia
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Hillary Clinton won the state by 5 percentage points in 2016. 

The state experienced a record for early voting, and accounts for a fifth of the state's electorate, which totals 5.9 million, CNBC reported. That compares to fewer than 200,000 early voters in 2017 for the last governor's race.

It comes amid a push by candidates to bank early votes – and follows a change in state law in favor of 'no excuse' early voting, which also took effect during the 2020 presidential election.  

Trump's apparent 'lead' in Virginia vanished at around midnight on Nov. 3, 2020, the Washington Post reported as these mail ballots were scanned and counted. 

Election observers have again been predicting Democrat McAuliffe would have an edge in the early vote, with Youngkin likely to hold the advantage on Election Day itself.

Youngkin told Fox News last week his camp expected a '"surprisingly good" turnout among early voters. 'Historically early voting has been 75 to 80% Democrats, so for us to be so strong in the early voting just reflects the fact that there’s not any enthusiasm on my opponent's side,' he said.

Youngkin pulled ahead of his Democratic challenger and former Virginia governor on Saturday in a FiveThirtyEight polling average. On October 28, the two were tied at 47 per cent.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, raises a glass of hard cider as he speaks to supporters during a rally in Richmond, Va., Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. A loss by McAuliffe would rattle Democrats hoping to preserve control of Congress

Democratic gubernatorial candidate former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, raises a glass of hard cider as he speaks to supporters during a rally in Richmond, Va., Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. A loss by McAuliffe would rattle Democrats hoping to preserve control of Congress

With a cold rain falling, voters stand in line to cast their ballots at the McClean Government Center during early voting on October 29, 2021 in McLean, Virginia

With a cold rain falling, voters stand in line to cast their ballots at the McClean Government Center during early voting on October 29, 2021 in McLean, Virginia

Cars line up along Balls Hill Road waiting to enter the McClean Government Center during early voting on October 29, 2021 in McLean, Virginia

Cars line up along Balls Hill Road waiting to enter the McClean Government Center during early voting on October 29, 2021 in McLean, Virginia

President Joe Biden campaigned for McAuliffe before Biden's trip to Europe

President Joe Biden campaigned for McAuliffe before Biden's trip to Europe

A polling average by Fivethirty Eight shows Republican contender Youngkin up .6% from Democrat McAuliffe in a 47.6–47% split

A polling average by Fivethirty Eight shows Republican contender Youngkin up .6% from Democrat McAuliffe in a 47.6–47% split

Donald Trump reiterated his support for Youngkin in a statement Monday ahed of the former president's tele-rally for the candidate. He urged supporters to get out and vote despite not being a 'believer in the integrity of Virginia's elections'

Donald Trump reiterated his support for Youngkin in a statement Monday ahed of the former president's tele-rally for the candidate. He urged supporters to get out and vote despite not being a 'believer in the integrity of Virginia's elections'


A loss by McAuliffe could cause a panic in his party and set a tone that could impact fundraising and retirements as Democrats seek to hold control of Congress in 2022.

The race will also be seen as a referendum on Trump, who didn't campaing in person for Youngkin but gave his endorsement and issued a statement Monday calling his opponents 'perverts.' 

Youngkin's tactic of appealing to Trump's base without overtly embracing the former president at all times could offer a pathway for other Republicans seeking to gain or hold power without being forced to cross Trump or reject his claims of election fraud.  

Youngkin and McAuliffe were in a virtual dead heat in a Monday in the Five thirty-eight polling average.

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