Live Blog: Terry McAuliffe Elected Virginia Governor | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Live Blog: Terry McAuliffe Elected Virginia Governor

It's Election Day in Virginia, and the commonwealth's top offices are up for grabs.
WAMU/Chris Chester
It's Election Day in Virginia, and the commonwealth's top offices are up for grabs.

It's over. Virginia voters have elected Democrat Terry McAuliffe to the office of governor, besting Republican Ken Cuccinelli by a narrow margin.

Final numbers are still coming in, but the margins were closer than the six point difference predicted in election eve polls. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, McAuliffe took home 47.39 percent of the vote to Cuccinelli's 45.8 percent. Libertarian Robert Sarvis pulled in fewer votes than predicted, with 6.61 percent of the vote.

McAuliffe attempted to bridge the bipartisan divide in his victory speech, thanking the "absolutely historic number" of Republicans who crossed party lines.

"This election was a choice about whether Virginia would continue the mainstream, bipartisan tradition that has served us so well," McAuliffe said.

He also gave Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell the nod for, among other things, pushing through the transportation funding bill.

In his concession speech, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli attributed the tightness of the race to national issues.

"Despite being outspent by $15 million, this race came down to the wire because of Obamacare," Cuccinelli said.

Ralph Northam was also swept into the office for lieutenant governor with 54.87 percent of the vote to E.W. Jackson's 44.94 percent. In his victory speech in Tysons Corner, Northam says women were the key to the Democratic victories tonight.

And in the race for attorney general, it's still too close to call, with Republican Mark Obenshain holding a lead of just 17,971 votes.

As of 10:30 p.m., this live blog is closed, but you can go back and check out the audio clips and tweets from Virginia Election Day 2013.

***

10:05 p.m.: Terry McAuliffe has been elected Virginia governor, according to the Associated Press. That report joins CNN, NBC, CBS, and FOX. We're expecting McAuliffe to address Democrats at the their gathering in Tysons Corner shortly.

Republican lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson, meanwhile, is officially conceding.

Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood talk to Quentin Kidd, Professor of Political Science at Christopher Newport University, and Michael Pope, WAMU Virginia Reporter as it becomes apparent that Democrat Terry McAuliffe will be the next governor of Virginia.

9:40 p.m.: We're awaiting official results, but so far FOX and NBC News have both called the gubernatorial race for Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

While the focus of the day has been the statewide races, the results in one local election isn't quite as close.

In Arlington County, with all but one precinct reporting, voters elected Democrat Jay Fissette Jr. by a two to one margin over Green Party candidate Audrey Clement. They also handily voted down a referendum that would have created a housing authority in Arlington County.

9:25 p.m.: The unofficial results out of the Virginia Board of Elections have nearly 85 percent of precincts reporting. Ken Cuccinelli maintains a margin of half a percentage point at 46.72 to 46.21 percent. Robert Sarvis continues to fade as the results come in, pulling in 6.8 percent of the vote. With many precincts in Northern Virginia left to be counted, the pendulum seems to be swinging Democrat, but that is far from final.

And for those who have been laser-focused on Virginia, Republican Chris Christie won handily in New Jersey, with victory declared shortly after polls closed.

8:45 p.m.: Steve Landes, Virginia House of Delegates since 1996, representing the 25th district and WAMU Reporter Michael Pope talk about how Cuccinelli's views on Medicaid expansion may have hurt him in the Virginia Elections in 2013.

8:45 p.m.: In the first statewide election being called by the Associated Press tonight, Democratic State Sen. Ralph Northam has been elected lieutenant governor of Virginia.

Meanwhile, Tom Davis, former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Virginia's 11th congressional district in Northern Virginia, talks to Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood on Election Night 2013.

8:30 p.m.: With just over 55.5 percent of precincts reporting:

  • Republican Ken Cuccinelli leads Democrat Terry McAuliffe 49.05 percent to 43.69. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis accounts for just under 7 percent of the vote in that race.
  • Republican Lt. Gov. candidate E.W. Jackson trails Democrat Ralph Northam at 48.22 percent to 51.57.
  • In the race for attorney general, Mark Obenshain has 54.22 percent of the vote to Democrat Mark Herring's 45.65 percent.

If you missed Mark Warner, Senior U.S. Senator from Virginia, talk with Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood about the 2013 Virginia election, check out the audio.

8:20 p.m.: Sen. Mark Warner joined us, predicting a 5 or 6 percent victory in the gubernatorial election instead of the 7 or 8 percent predicted in recent polls. Michael Pope was right there to capture what it's like for a lawmaker at a campaign headquarters.

Jonathan Wilson reports that there is a buzz at the Republican headquarters in Richmond.

8:05 p.m.: Corey Stewart, Republican chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, talks about a big mistake Ken Cuccinelli made by opposing the bi-county parkway.

7:50 p.m.: WAMU reporter Martin Di Caro discusses the transportation issues facing the next Virginia governor.

We also have some early numbers, with 19.95 percent of precincts reporting:

  • Ken Cuccinelli leads Terry McAuliffe 52 percent to nearly 40 percent, with Robert Sarvis trailing at 7.3 percent.
  • In the race for Lt. Gov., E.W. Jackson is ahead of Democrat Ralph Northam 52 to 47.7 percent.
  • In the attorney general race, Mark Obenshain leads Mark Herring 73.2 percent to 26.7 percent

7:45 p.m.: We've got some turnout numbers from registrars in counties crucial to tonight's election:

  • Loudoun County registrar Judy Brown predicts a 40 percent turnout.
  • Fairfax County Election Board Secretary Brian Schoeneman estimates approximately 36 percent have voted as of 6:30 p.m., but has no prediction. The county had a 41 percent turnout in 2009 and is on track to meet that.
  • Prince Williams Registrar Doug Geib predicts 35 percent turnout. Says turnout was about 35 percent in 2009.
  • Henrico County Deputy Registrar Anne Marie Middlesworth predicts turnout in the upper 30 percent, maybe as high as 40 percent. She says turnout in 2009 was 45 percent.

7:30 p.m.: Quentin Kidd, political science professor and director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, explains what he is looking for on a granular data level as results of the Virginia 2013 election come in.

7:15 p.m.: At the headquarters for Terry McAuliffe, reporter Michael Pope says the mood is excited. People are anticipating not only a victory for McAuliffe, but a sweep of the statewide executive offices. He says they feel that Democrats are going to show up well in all the races, and Democrats have not held all of the state-wide executive seats in a long time.

In Richmond, Jonathan Wilson spoke with some Republican officials who expressed quiet optimism about the Cuccinelli campaign. They were seeing higher levels of turnout in the areas that tend to vote Republican, and lower-than-expected results in Democratic strongholds.

With less than 2 percent of precincts reporting, it's too early to say whose optimism is better founded.

Here's the audio:

7:00 p.m.: Polls are officially closed! Now we wait.

We'll be monitoring election results from the WAMU 88.5 Media Center, but election results are available on the state board of elections page.

6:45 p.m.: Over the last several months, Kojo Nnamdi has spoken on the issues with most of the big players in tonight's election . We've embedded clips of past interviews with everyone from Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe to Mark Obenshain and Mark Herring in the sidebar. Check them out as we wait for the official tallies to come in.

6:20 p.m.: There's less than an hour to go until polls close in Virginia, and Alex Bolton from The Hill newspaper joined us in the newsroom to talk about who has been boosting the commonwealth's gubernatorial candidates. Marco Rubio and Ron Paul have been stumping for Ken Cuccinelli, while Terry McAuliffe has found support in Virginia's two senators: Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.

Take a listen:

6:00 p.m.: Turnout may be a big factor in the statewide races, as we've noted throughout the day. At least in Fairfax County, turnout is low. For reference, in 2009, Fairfax County had a turnout of 44.6 percent.

5:45 p.m.: A reminder for readers: while polls close at 7 p.m., if you're in the door before the clock strikes, you will be allowed to cast your vote. So no excuses.

5:00 p.m.: A persistent thread from voters on Election Day is frustration with the negative tone of the gubernatorial campaign. American University journalism student Samantha Hogan was in McLean, Va., where poll workers told her peoples' minds were mostly made up:

Voters appeared to know who they were going to vote for before arriving at the school, said Democratic volunteer Patti Green Roth, 63, who had been at the polling location for several hours passing out Democratic candidate bios, sample ballots and leftover Halloween candy to voters.

"No matter what side of the fence we sit on, we know what we don't like about the other side of the fence," Roth said. "It's more important to know what you do like about a candidate."

Roth handed out papers asking for a "yes" vote on the school bond question, which would allow the Board of Supervisors to borrow $250,000 to improve the Fairfax County school system.

"We need to have more people out than we have, because there are a lot of important issues," Roth said in regard to women's rights, gun control and education, which have come under public scrutiny during this year's governor election.

Maria Kazanowska, the chief of the polling location, says the location was prepared with paper ballots and one touch screen computer for the seeing impaired, she said.

"Our goal is to please the voter," Kazanowska said, adding that the final tallying of the votes would not take long, including the hand count of write-in candidates ranging from Donald Duck to Darth Vader.

4:45 p.m.: Democrats in Tysons Corner tell WAMU reporter Michael Pope that they are excited about turnout projections, especially turnout in two important Democratic strongholds.

One key precinct in Henrico County had 51 percent of the 2009 turnout by 10 a.m. Another key precinct in Arlington had 67 percent of the 2009 turnout by 10 a.m.

Campaign officials say that's good news for the Democratic ticket, which usually does better when turnout is higher.

WAMU reporter Jonathan Wilson says the best hope for Ken Cuccinelli is to turn out his Tea Party base, mobilized on national issues like Obamacare and the government shutdown, to blunt the Terry McAuliffe edge.

Cuccinelli's connections to the Republican governor Bob McDonnell have been a drag on his campaign, and it's telling that McDonnell has no plans to appear at tonight's Republican event  at the Richmond Marriott.

4:25 p.m.: Several voters cited their uneasiness about the Affordable Care Act as a factor in their vote for Cuccinelli.

3:41 p.m.: Have you ever wondered what happens to your votes after you cast your ballot? Assistant Chief Election Officer Donald Milburn, who has worked as an election officer for more than 15 years in Great Falls, Va., explains.

2:12 p.m.: Voters at Tuckahoe Elementary School in Arlington cited women’s reproductive rights as a driving force in their support of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, according to Sydney Gore, a journalism student at American University who is visiting polling sites around Northern Virginia today. .

1:15 p.m.: The majority of the focus in recent days has been on the top of the ticket: the Virginia governor's race. The lieutenant governor's race is consequential in its own right, though; the winner can help decide which way they evenly divided Senate swings. Republican E.W. Jackson was on The Politics Hour last Friday, while Democrat Ralph Northam was on in late July.

12:45 p.m.: One sentiment that has crossed party lines is that today's election for Virginia's next governor isn't so much about who voters like best, but rather who they dislike least. Elyssa Pachico, a journalism student at American University who is visiting polling sites around Northern Virginia today, found a campaign volunteer who said as much:

"This is truly a manhunt election," said John Lawton, a volunteer for McAuliffe's campaign working at a Vienna polling site.

"People are voting against people rather than for them. If you're a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, you can't stand the Democratic candidate, if you're a Democrat, you can't abide the propaganda and lies they've put out."

On McAuliffe, Lawton admits he's less than excited: "I don't think he's outstanding, " he said. "But let's face it, he's all we have."

11:30 a.m.: The best "I voted" sticker in Virginia? We report, you decide. (Via Instagram user lostaire.)

11:15 a.m.: A few computer glitches in Loudoun County have caused some voting issues, reports our content partner NBC Washington:

While the morning went without a hitch for most locales, some voters ran into problems when they went to cast their vote in Loudoun County.

Officials say 25 of the county's 85 precincts experienced a computer problem with the electronic poll books, which are used to check voters in as they arrive.

“We are working to resolve the networking problems that occurred early this morning with the laptops that we use to check in voters,” said Judy Brown, Loudoun County General Registrar.

Brown added that every impacted precinct had at least one functioning electronic poll book, so residents were still able to vote.

 

11 a.m.: Even if he loses, Libertarian Party gubernatorial contender Robert Sarvis could win. How?

If he gets 10 percent of the vote, the Libertarian Party will become a "major party" in the commonwealth, guaranteeing it ballot access for coming elections. Given the fact that Libertarians in Virginia have fought to get on the ballot in recent years — including by filing a lawsuit so as to allow out-of-state petition circulators to help them collect the needed signatures to get on the ballot — this is a big step for the party.

In a message to supporters earlier this week, Sarvis' wife made this very point: "We have a chance on Tuesday to make history here in Virginia. Because of your support, my husband's campaign has caused quite a stir already, and if you help him garner at least 10% (and hopefully much more!!) of the vote on Nov. 5th, it will completely change the political dynamic in Virginia.

Will he get the 10 percent he needs? He's polled between eight and 12 percent, so it'll be close.

We spoke to Sarvis in late September; read the interview here.

10:30 a.m.: Via Elyssa Pachico, a journalism student at American University who is visiting polling sites around Northern Virginia today:

Peter Childers, a volunteer for Ken Cuccinelli's gubernatorial campaign at a polling station in Vienna, has just one word for the issue that matters most to him this election: "Money."

Katie Gressang, a volunteer for the McAuliffe campaign, says she's been out of the workforce for about a year since the non-profit she worked for was downsized. But the economy isn't the issue that matters most to her: It's health.

She says she suffers from epilepsy and had to undergo brain surgery some years ago, when she was still employed and insured. "It would have cost something like $100,000," she said. "And all I had to pay was about $100 for John Hopkins hospital to put my food in a blender.

"Right now I'm covered through my husband but I'd rather have Obamacare," she added, referencing the Affordable Care Act. "Could I get some Obamacare please?"

Both campaigns have tried to focus on the economy, saying that they'd be better at bringing more jobs to Virginia. But the issue of healthcare has also loomed large: as we've reported, the issue of whether Medicaid will be expanded or not as part of Obama's healthcare reform will fall on the winner of today's elections. McAuliffe favors it, Cuccinelli doesn't.

10 a.m.: If you live in Arlington, you're not just voting for public officials, but also on a referendum that will decide whether the county should create a housing authority. Details here.

9:45 a.m.: Here they are, the two gubernatorial frontrunners voting this morning.

Top photo of Ken Cuccinelli was taken by AP photographer Cliff Owen, the lower photo is of Terry McAuliffe taken by AP photographer Jacquelyn Martin.

8:00 a.m.: Virginia's gubernatorial candidates aren't slowing down today; in fact, McAuliffe, Cuccinelli and Libertarian Party contender Robert Sarvis will be making a number of stops to encourage Virginians to get out and vote.

McAuliffe, for his part, voted in McLean at 6:30 a.m. and will be stopping in Fairfax, Chesterfield, Norfolk, and Portsmouth before making his way back to Tysons Corner for his Election Day party. Cuccinelli will cast his ballot in Nokesville at 8:15 a.m. before setting off for Clifton, Fairfax, Spotsylvania, and Mechanicsville; his party will take place in Richmond. Sarvis will rally voters in Arlington at 11:30 a.m. before voting in Alexandria at 12:30 p.m.; he'll then travel to Richmond for his own Election Day shindig.

7:30 a.m.: Today is Election Day for some, and for others not living in Virginia but sharing the same television market, it's the last day that campaign ads will clog the airwaves:

Just how extensive has the advertising been? According to the Washington Post, McAuliffe and Cuccinelli have combined to spend over $16 million on campaign ads that have aired tens of thousands of times in Northern Virginia, Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, and other media markets in the commonwealth. Outside groups have kicked in another $9 million.

6:35 a.m.: According to our own Michael Pope, Virginia election officials expect some two million people to cast ballots today, roughly 50 percent of the commonwealth's registered voters. That's on par with the 2009 election, but far below the 2012 presidential election, when 81 percent of Virginians cast ballots.

6 a.m.: Polls are open! Before you head to the polls, don't forget to take a form of ID: a voter registration card, driver's license, military ID, federal or state government ID, employer-issued ID, concealed handgun permit, student ID, Social Security card, or utility bill. Though Virginia has passed a law requiring photo ID at the polls, that law does not go into effect until 2014.

If you have problems voting in Virginia, call your local voting office (contact info is here), the ACLU at (804) 644-8080, the GOP at (571)-354-6755, or the Democrats at (855)-910-8683.

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