https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/579721-live-coverage-voters-head-to-polls-in-virginia-new-jersey

Polls are closed in Virginia and the last voters are headed to cast their ballots in New Jersey.

Both states feature some of the marquee elections of the year – races that will provide some of the earliest clues about the political environment heading into the 2022 midterm elections.

And in both states, the races for governor are top of mind for most voters. In Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe is in a close race with Republican Glenn Youngkin. And In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, is facing off against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli

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There are a number of other races to watch on Tuesday. Voters in Ohio’s 11th and 15th congressional districts will decide the replacements for former Reps. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeBiden unveils last-minute endorsement in special congressional election in Ohio Biden unveils last-minute endorsement in special congressional election in Ohio Toomey takes aim at Schumer’s spending windfall for NYC public housing MORE (D-Ohio) and Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversBiden unveils last-minute endorsement in special congressional election in Ohio Biden unveils last-minute endorsement in special congressional election in Ohio Reforming marijuana laws before the holidays: A three-pronged approach MORE (R-Ohio), and New York City is poised to choose its next mayor.

Here are five things to watch for in the Virginia governor’s race. And here are some other races you might want to keep an eye on.

Check back here for live updates.

8:32 p.m. ET

The Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman called the race for Youngkin, who holds an eight-point lead, according to early data from The Associated Press.

However, the McAuliffe campaign is cautioning that an early lead for Youngkin is to be expected because of early and faster reporting from smaller, rural counties. Additionally, the former governor’s campaign is touting his lead in Loudoun County, which has become ground zero in the conservative-led debate over parental rights and education. 

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8 p.m. ET

Polls in New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is trying to fend off a challenge from former Republican state lawmaker Jack Ciattarelli, officially closed at 8 p.m.

Murphy sought to cast himself as a progressive and an effective manager during the coronavirus pandemic while painting his opponent as a Trump foot soldier. Ciattarelli, meanwhile, focused most of his campaign on school and economic issues like lowering taxes, a perennially important issue in the Garden State.

Polls had shown Murphy’s lead growing smaller in recent weeks, but surveys in the final days of the race still showed him edging out Ciattarelli beyond the margins of error.

7:55 p.m. ET

Democrat Shontel Brown has won the race to succeed Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.

Brown, a member of the Cuyahoga County Council, cruised to victory over Republican Laverne Jones Gore in a special election that was called after Fudge stepped down earlier this year to join President BidenJoe BidenBiden administration takes aim at methane emissions McConnell blasts potential payments to separated migrant families Poll: 50 percent of Republicans don’t believe their vote will be counted accurately MORE’s administration.

Brown was heavily favored to win heading into the Tuesday election, given the district’s heavy Democratic tilt. 

The August Democratic primary for Fudge’s seat was far more contentious than the special election itself. Brown faced a challenge from former state Sen. Nina Turner, a top surrogate for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders hits back at Manchin’s spending concerns Manchin frustrates Democrats with latest outburst Democrats race to reach deal on prescription drug pricing MORE’s (I-Vt.) 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. 

7:42 p.m. ET

Early data shows Youngkin slightly ahead as votes are counted in the state’s rural, redder areas, though that gap is likely to close as results filter in throughout the evening. With just 18 percent of the votes counted, the Republican leads McAuliffe 57 to 42 percent.

Polls show a tight race between McAuliffe and his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin. Democrats have expressed nervousness at Youngkin’s ability to drum up enthusiasm despite being a relatively unknown figure at the start of the campaign. However, Democrats are in part relying on McAuliffe’s surrogates, including President Biden, Vice President Harris, and former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaKal Penn thanks supporters ‘for all the love’ after revelation he’s engaged to his longtime partner NASA chief Bill Nelson latest official to suggest UFOs have otherworldly origins Biden’s Taiwan test is coming MORE, to fire up Democratic voters. 

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The race is being viewed as a bellwether for Democrats and Republicans ahead of next year’s midterm elections. 

7 p.m. ET

Polls in Virginia officially closed at 7 pm. Early voting data appears to have favored McAuliffe and Democrats, but the gap is likely to close as results flood in. The commonwealth appeared to be on track to surpass 3 million votes, breaking its 2017 gubernatorial race record of 2.6 million, according to the Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman.

6:45 p.m. ET

The McAuliffe campaign is particularly touting numbers from the Washington, D.C. suburb of Falls Church, where they said turnout was surpassing the 2017 turnout. The city is a Democratic stronghold and could serve as a boost to McAuliffe. Political watchers are also keeping an eye on Fairfax County, the most populous county of the state. 

McAuliffe, a Democrat who already served one term in the Virginia governor’s mansion, is looking to become only the second Virginia governor since the Civil War to be elected twice.

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But McAuliffe is facing a tough challenge from Youngkin, who had the momentum heading into Election Day. Recent polls show a closer race than most Democrats are comfortable with in a state that has trended in their direction over the past decade.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, is facing a less competitive reelection bid, with recent polling showing him with a comfortable lead over his Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. If Murphy pulls off a win on Tuesday, he’ll be the first Democratic governor to win a second term in New Jersey since Brenden Byrne in 1977. 

Polls close in Virginia at 7 p.m. EDT, while New Jersey voters will have until 8 p.m. to get in line to cast their ballots. 

 

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