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Key Takeaways:

  • While odd-year elections are not as prominent as those that fall on even years, there are still big races taking place on Nov. 2. Voters will elect governors and state lawmakers in Virginia and New Jersey as well as weigh in on two dozen ballot measures in six states.
  • Election forecasters rate both the gubernatorial race and control over the state house, both currently in Democratic control, as "toss ups." 
  • Politicos with an eye on 2022 races are watching closely to see whether the Virginia race ends up as close as the polling suggests or swings back to more recent outcomes.

Next Tuesday is election day. While odd-year elections are not as prominent as those that fall on even years, there are still big races taking place on Nov. 2. Voters will elect governors and state lawmakers in Virginia and New Jersey as well as weigh in on two dozen ballot measures in six states. 

In New Jersey, incumbent Governor Phil Murphy (D) has a solid polling advantage over challenger Jack Ciattarelli (R). The Cook Political Report rates the New Jersey governor’s race as “Solid D” while state election forecasters CNalysis rates retention of the New Jersey Assembly and Senate as “Solid D” as well. If re-elected, Governor Murphy will be the first Democratic governor to win reelection in New Jersey since 1977.

The situation in Virginia is much more interesting. For the first time in 20 years, Democrats gained control of the Virginia House of Delegates in the 2019 elections. But Democrats’ current 55 to 45 seat advantage in the Virginia House could be short-lived as all 100 seats are up for election on Tuesday. CNalysis recently changed its rating for the Virginia House from a “Tilt D” to a “Toss Up.” The recent tanking of President Biden’s approval rating is causing a lot of heartburn for Democratic operatives that see Virginia as a prelude for the 2022 midterm elections.

Former governor Terry McAuliffe (D) hopes to replace term-limited incumbent Governor Northam (D). While Virginia has turned from purple to solidly blue over the past few election cycles, gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (R) has been closing the polling gap with McAuliffe all summer. The most recent polls show the race either tied or giving McAuliffe a slight advantage. Cook has rated the Virginia governor’s race a “Toss Up.” Politicos with an eye on 2022 races are watching closely to see whether the Virginia race ends up as close as the polling suggests or swings back to more recent outcomes (Biden carried the state by 10 points and Northam won the last gubernatorial election by 9). A Youngkin victory or even a razor-thin McAuliffe victory would spell trouble for Democrats in upcoming elections. On the other hand, if McAuliffe outperforms the polling conducted close to election day (like what we saw in the California recall election earlier this year) then the national media attention will focus elsewhere. 

Finally, in addition to a handful of major mayoral races on the local level, voters in six states will decide whether to approve 24 statewide ballot measures. Notably, New Yorkers will decide whether to adopt measures to make voting easier in the state, such as expanding absentee voting and allowing same day voter registration. 

Read more about all 24 statewide ballot measures as well as the state legislative and gubernatorial races at our 2021 State Elections landing page. We'll be tracking the latest news as well as compiling results and post-election analysis.