Newsmax has declared GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin has defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial election, held alongside local and state races across the nation on Tuesday night.
A McAuliffe loss in Virginia, which Democratic President Joe Biden won by a double-digit margin over Republican then-President Donald Trump last year, would represent a demoralizing setback for national Democrats. McAuliffe saw his lead in public polls evaporate in the campaign’s closing weeks.
McAuliffe came out to speak to his supporters at his election headquarters at 10:20 p.m. ET, but refused to concede the election, saying there was 18% of the vote remaining to be reported and he wanted to be sure every vote is counted.
He thanked his campaign staff and voters.
Trump trolled McAuliffe in a statement from his Save America PAC just after 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday night:
“It is looking like Terry McAuliffe’s campaign against a certain person named ‘Trump’ has very much helped Glenn Youngkin. All McAuliffe did was talk Trump, Trump, Trump and he lost! What does that tell you, Fake News? I guess people running for office as Democrats won’t be doing that too much longer. I didn’t even have to go rally for Youngkin, because McAuliffe did it for me. Thank you to the MAGA voters for turning out big!”
Trump praised his voter base for coming out for Youngkin in another Save America PAC statement:
“I would like to thank my BASE for coming out in force and voting for Glenn Youngkin. Without you, he would not have been close to winning. The MAGA movement is bigger and stronger than ever before. Glenn will be a great governor. Thank you to the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia and most particularly, to our incredible MAGA voters!”
Donald Trump Jr. declared Youngkin’s victory a slam on President Joe Biden, tweeting:
“When Biden wakes up tomorrow afternoon, somebody’s gonna have to tell him he’s now officially presiding over the collapse of the Democrat party”
The bruising campaign centered on issues including Youngkin’s ties to Donald Trump, the future of abortion rights, and culture war battles over schools. But voters saw the economy as the top issue, followed by the coronavirus pandemic, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of statewide voters.
Some 34% of Virginia voters ranked the economy as their No. 1 priority, compared to 17% saying COVID-19 and 14% choosing education. Those issues outranked health care, climate change, racism and abortion in the survey.
The final results, though, may ultimately be interpreted as an early judgment of Biden. The closeness of the race indicated just how much his political fortunes have changed in a short period. The White House has been shaken in recent months by the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, a sometimes sluggish economic recovery amid the pandemic and a legislative agenda at risk of stalling on Capitol Hill.
A loss in a state that has trended toward Democrats for more than a decade would deepen the sense of alarm inside the party heading into next year’s midterm elections, when control of Congress is at stake.