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. A Monmouth University poll released last week gives McAuliffe, who has been out of office for four years, a 5-point lead, 47%-42% against Republican Glenn Youngkin.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy had a 16-point lead over Republican Jack Ciattarelli in a Monmouth poll released in August.