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Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin. (Photo: Youngkin for Governor).

The link between New Jersey and Virginia governor’s races

Two states went they same way for governor in 7 of last 8 elections

By David Wildstein, November 01 2021 12:37 pm

New Jersey and Virginia have been linked since 1949, when a new State Constitution decided to elect Garden State Governors in the year after the presidential election.  Delegates argued that gubernatorial and legislative elections ought to be fought on state issues, without the encumbrances of federal candidates.

As a result, only New Jersey and Virginia elect governors on this particular cycle.  Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi also hold odd-year gubernatorial elections, in the year preceding the race for president.

The results of these elections have been inexplicably linked: New Jersey and Virginia have elected governors of the same political parties in 7 of the last 8 elections.

The lone exception since 1989 was in 2013, when Republican Gov. Chris Christie was re-elected.  Virginia elected a Democrat, Terry McAuliffe.  He won a 2.6% win over Republican Ken Cuccinelli.   The two states went in opposite partisan directions in four consecutive gubernatorial elections between 1973 and 1985.

The two states went Democratic in 1989, 2001, 2005, and 2018, and Republican in 1993, 1997, and 2009.

Virginia, which began their current election cycle during Reconstruction, does not permit governors to serve consecutive terms.

Polls show a razor-thin race in Virginia between Republican Glenn Youngkin and former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

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