McAuliffe defeated Cuccinelli in a awesomely slim 48-45 percent victory to become Virginia’s next governor, breakage a long Virginia tradition going back to 1977 of voting for a new governor from the opposition party of the sitting president.
Virginia was one of two states picking out governors Tuesday, along with New Jersey – where Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., was elected again- and a good deal of local elections also took place across the country including elections for various state ballot initiatives and big-city mayors.
According to exit polls, both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli did very well among their own zealots – each getting more than nine out of 10 votes from people of their own parties. Cuccinelli had a nine-point edge among independents, which constitute three in 10 voters in Virginia Gov Race 2013. But McAuliffe did better than Cuccinelli in getting out his base: somewhat more voters reported themselves as Democrats (37 percent) than Republicans (32 percent) as shown in Figure.
McAuliffe also won among voters under 45 and college graduates – both groups that McDonnell won four years ago – and he led among moderates (22 points) and women (9 points).
Virginia voters may have seen Cuccinelli as more extreme ideologically than McAuliffe. 50% saw Cuccinelli as too conservative, compared to just 41 percent who saw McAuliffe as too liberal person.