VA Governor’s Race betting: The favorite is…

By Lee Cleveland, Polls and Trends - November 2, 2021

In blue-state Virginia, the gubernatorial race remains extremely close, and, with less than three hours before the polls close, a surprise favorite has emerged – Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.

Bookmakers Betfair, which operates the world’s largest online betting exchange, told Newsweek that Youngkin stood at 4/6 on Tuesday, compared to odds of 11/10 for Democratic candidate and former governor Terry McAuliffe. Hence, a successful $100 wager on Youngkin would net $66.67 while the same successful bet on McAuliffe would net $110.

The favorite is no surprise as the Real Clear Politics aggregate of top pollsters has Youngkin ahead by 1.7 percentage points.

RCP AVERAGE10/20 – 10/31YOUNGKIN +1.7
Trafalgar Group (R)10/29 – 10/31Youngkin +2
FOX 5 DC/InsiderAdvantage*10/27 – 10/30Youngkin +2
FOX News10/24 – 10/27Youngkin +8
Washington Post*10/20 – 10/26McAuliffe +1
Emerson*10/22 – 10/23Tie
USA Today/Suffolk*10/21 – 10/24McAuliffe +1

Yes, Youngkin is the clear but narrow favorite despite the fact Democratic President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, and the state’s current governor, Ralph Northam, carried the commonwealth by nearly 9 percent in the 2017 governor’s race.

Why is the 2021 Virginia Governor’s Race so significant?

Answer: It is considered a) a bellwether for where the country sits politically and b) a presumed early indicator of what’ll lie in store for the midterm elections next year. Results will be watched and analyzed closely by experts, pundits, and candidates nationwide.

Heading into Election Night, here are our biggest pre-result 2021 Virginia Governor’s Race takeaways:

  • How close is it, really? The 2017 Virginia Gubernatorial Election, won by Democrat Ralph Northam by a whopping 8.9 percentage points, was expected to be close as well.

  • McAuliffe cruises to victory IF… – In 2017, the Real Clear Politics aggregate of top pollsters projected Northam’s win would be 6.6 percentage points lower than it was; hence it leaned Republican.

    If the RCP average has the same “faulty” conservative lean this year, McAuliffe wins by over four percentage points.

  • Even a McAuliffe upset tonght could suggest bad news for Democrats in 2022 – Given Virginia’s heavy Democratic lean post 2004 and McAuliffe’s name recognition advantage, Democrats should hope Terry wins by at least five percentage points.

    A McAuliffe win by fewer than three percentage points would serve as a pyrrhic GOP victory of sorts because it would show considerable softening in support for Democrats, whether within its progressive base or among independents or suburban moderates.

  • Ut oh, Democrats – Trafalgar Group, a pollster notorious for its hard-right lean and upset predictions, had Youngkin ahead by two in its most recent poll which concluded Saturday. If a Republican candidate is a live dog, she/he is almost always ahead in Trafalgar Group’s polling. (The same pollster had Northam defeating his Republican challenger by one in 2017)

    Simply put, if a Republican has any chance whatsoever to win, she/he will be ahead in Trafalgar’s polling. As a result, we can safely assume a) Youngkin has at least a reasonable chance to win and b) chances are remote McAuliffe will win comfortably should he manufacture a soft upset tonight.

  • McAuliffe still a good bet – Given 1) Virginia has been virtually blue since 2008 and 2) the Democratic candidate for governor in 2017 far surpassed poll projections, McAuliffe, trailing by only 1.7 percent, is certainly a potent and lively underdog.

Given the intangibles, a few of which we mentioned above, there should be no clear favorite at all.

VA Governor’s race prediction: McAuliffe by 0.7%

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Tags: 2021 Virginia Gubernatorial Election