Virginians head to polls for gubernatorial election Tuesday

The Va. gubernatorial candidates (r-l) Republican Ed Gillespie, Libertarian Cliff Hyra, Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam

Courtesy of Steve Helber and the Associated Press

The Va. gubernatorial candidates (r-l) Republican Ed Gillespie, Libertarian Cliff Hyra, Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam

Devan Fink, Online Editor-in-Chief

It’s Election Day in Virginia once again.

Almost one year to the date after the 2016 United States presidential election, Virginians head to the polls once again on Tuesday to decide the who will be the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth.

Democratic candidate Ralph Northam faces off against Republican Ed Gillespie in what many call is President Donald Trump’s first big test to determine whether he still has the majority of Republican voters still in his favor. Libertarian candidate Cliff Hyra is also running.

Northam, 58, has been serving as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia since 2014 and was previously a member of the Virginia Senate. Additionally, he served in the United States Army as a medical officer from 1984 to 1992.

Gillespie, 56, served as a Counselor to the President from 2007 to 2009 under the George Bush administration and was the chair of the Republican National Committee from 2003 to 2005. He ran for U.S. Senator in 2014 but lost to incumbent Mark Warner by a 0.8 percent margin.

Virginia is the only U.S. state that prohibits its governor from running for re-election, so therefore incumbent Terry McAuliffe is ineligible to run again in 2017. The state has voted in Democrats in three out of the last four elections, with the 2009 election of Bob McDonnell being the only exception.

According to Harry Enten of political website FiveThirtyEight, Northam heads into Election Day with a slight lead in the polls; an average of the last 10 surveys conducted give him a three point, 46 percent-to-43 percent, lead. Still, as he notes, the biggest question on who wins might come down to turnout.

While many mention that this election may be predicative of the updated political climate in the United States, it is important to understand that the Virginia gubernatorial election has not always correctly predicted who voters ultimately vote to the Senate in the following year. In the past six election cycles, the party to win the Governor’s seat has won the House vote four times, with the voter spread fluctuating wildly.

Still, Enten goes on to mention that “Republicans seem intent on looking to Tuesday’s results for clues about how to run in 2018,” making tomorrow’s Virginia election a potentially impactful one in the nationwide political arena going forward.