Election-night drama in a nonpresidential election year is hard to find, but Virginia offers the best hope for a tight race as Virginians go to the polls Tuesday to elect their next governor.
Incumbent Gov. Bob McDonnell cannot run for re-election. The race pits former Clinton fundraiser and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe against Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican. Lawyer and businessman Robert Sarvis is running on the Libertarian Party line, although he doesn’t have a realistic shot at winning the governorship.
Only Virginia and New Jersey are holding gubernatorial elections in 2013, and with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie expected to trounce his little-known Democratic opponent, New Jersey State Sen. Barbara Buono, the Old Dominion State is the best chance for some Election Day theatrics.
But McAuliffe, who has led in every poll conducted on the race, is expected to defeat Cuccinelli. The Virginia attorney general may have some momentum going into Election Day, however, as the race has shown tightening. A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday showed McAuliffe ahead by 6 percentage points.
McAuliffe’s campaign has painted Cuccinelli as a radical Republican and tea party sympathizer, and the strategy appears to be working. A Washington Post poll found that 64 percent of McAuliffe supporters said their vote is more of a vote against Cuccinelli than a vote for McAuliffe.
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Cuccinelli’s campaign wants the election to be a referendum on Obamacare. The campaign has attacked McAuliffe for supporting the president’s controversial health care agenda.