According to election handicapper, Sabato’s Crystal Ball’s latest column, published just hours before election day, they changed their prediction from the “Leans Democratic” column to “Leans Republican.”
“Youngkin has the enthusiasm, the environment, the history, and perhaps even the issues (given his focus on education and its increasing salience in polling),” they stated.
“McAuliffe has the state’s Democratic lean in his favor. However, we do feel we owe it to readers to push this race one way or the other and not just move it to a Toss-up rating at the end,” they added. “So we’re moving from Leans Democratic to Leans Republican.”
“A couple of additional things to watch tomorrow: Because of changes to Virginia law, mail-in and early ballots will be tabulated more quickly than in 2020, so instead of the Republicans jumping out to an early lead, Democrats are likely to. Then it will be a question of whether Youngkin catches up to and passes McAuliffe, and there may be late drama depending on the rhythm of the vote count. Also, for all of the focus on the suburbs, keep an eye on the red, rural counties in central and western Virginia. The turnout and the GOP performance in those areas are a very important part of this story too. So too is Democratic turnout and performance in heavily Black areas, particularly in the Greater Richmond and Hampton Roads regions. In an election that has the potential to be extremely close, it’s never just one place or one group that decides the outcome,” they said.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Newt Gingrich may be the isolated believers about who is going to win in the Virginia gubernatorial race.