Our current 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election predictions and prediction commentary are below. Who will win the Virginia governor’s race on November 2?
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2021 Virginia Gubernatorial Election Predictions: Current
Predictions Commentary, February 21
We rate the Virginia governor’s race as likely Democratic to start the 2021 election cycle.
The Virginia Republican Party is a case study in political implosion; the local GOP just has not figured it out yet. In 2004, George W. Bush carried Virginia for the second time. It was the tenth election in a row in which the Republicans carried the commonwealth. As of 2021, the Democrats have won it at the presidential level four times in a row. They have both Senate seats, a majority of the House seats, all state constitutional offices, and majorities in both houses of the General Assembly. This is what the folks call a blue state.
Now, Virginia back in the day was as blue as anywhere else in the Solid South. However, in the 1960s through 1990s, when a lot of those areas turned more Republican, so did the Old Dominion. Only problem for them is that it did not stay that way. Northern Virginia suburbia in particular has betrayed the GOP: Biden got 70 percent of the vote in Fairfax County in 2020, 62 percent in Loudoun County, and 63 percent in Prince William County. George W. Bush carried Loudoun and Prince William in 2004 and held John Kerry to 53 percent in Fairfax. These areas, and others like them in the state such as Henrico County, have raced away from the GOP in recent years.
It’s not as bad a situation as in New Jersey, but the Republican bench in Virginia gets thinner with each passing year. Ed Gillespie could not win statewide office in his attempts. Corey Stewart was a disaster in his 2018 Senate race. The last GOP governor, Bob McDonnell, who was one of the last Republicans to win anything in the commonwealth, dealt with years of a federal investigation though cleared of it. There is no Republican superhero stepping up to the plate barring the unforeseen.
The GOP may nominate Amanda Chase, a state senator whose claims to fame are her ardent support of Donald Trump and her censure by the Senate for calling the January 6 rioters at the US Capitol “patriots.” It may go as well as when they nominated Stewart, another strong Trump supporter, for US Senate in 2018. Why do we say that? For one thing, Trump lost Virginia by 10 points in 2020, so being pro-Trump is not a winning message there. It is in, say, Alabama, but Virginia is clearly not Alabama in the political alignment department anymore. Does the Virginia GOP know that? It’s not certain. We also say that because there is no reason to believe at this point – zero – that Virginia is spring-loaded to go back the other way after a solid decade or more of trending Democratic.
For their part, the Democrats are bringing heavy-hitters to this race, like former governor Terry McAuliffe and Justin Fairfax, the lieutenant governor. Whomever emerges from that bruising primary will have the advantage of running in a state that is favoring them more and more. For a Democrat to lose in Virginia these days, a Republican has to hold down Democratic numbers in Northern Virginia while winning places like Henrico County, Chesterfield County, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. Bob McDonnell did it in 2009; Donald Trump came nowhere near running the table in 2020. It seems to suspend disbelief to think that any Republican can, for example, overturn a 29-point deficit in Henrico County or 25 points in Loudoun County. That’s probably what it’s going to take for the GOP to be competitive in Virginia again, because rural areas in the west and south will never generate enough votes to do it. In the post-Trump world, as it was pre-Trump, it’s getting further away from reality, not closer.