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Virginia set to return to Republican control

Despite record voter turnout, former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe and his allies failed to overcome the energy Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin inspired in the state’s GOP base.

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) — Voters in Virginia have selected Republican Glenn Youngkin to be their next governor.

In one of the nation's highest profile elections this year, Youngkin beat former Democratic Governor McAuliffe with 51% of the vote compared to McAullife's 49%, according to the state's Department of Elections as of early Wednesday morning.

Republican Winsome Sears, with 51% of the vote, scraped by Democrat Hala Ayala, with 49% of the vote, in the lieutenant governor's race, while Republican Jason Miyares narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Mark Herring in the race for attorney general, with 51% compated to 49% of the vote.

Changes made by Democrats to election laws earlier this year undoubtedly played a role in Tuesday’s results. Record-breaking turnout — including double digit increases in some counties — was common thanks to the addition of 45 days of no-excuse absentee voting.

And while the increased turnout in Democratic strongholds could have offered some hope to former governor Terry McAuliffe, increases in rural areas proved to be of no help to him.

McAuliffe was hoping to reclaim his seat in the race against Republican businessman Youngkin and while the former governor was leading in early polling, the two inched closer leading up to Election Day.

During his campaign, Youngkin highlighted what he considered problems with the state's public schools, like the teaching of critical race theory and transgender inclusive policies, while McAuliffe touted progressive pushes for expanded health care and more family medical leave.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in an email the party’s success in Virginia was part of a historic “red wave” to match the “blue wave” that occurred after Trump’s first year in office.

“This Republican sweep in Virginia is a resounding rebuke of the failed policies of Joe Biden and the Democrats,” she said before promising a repeat of the outcome in Virginia nationwide as part of the 2022 midterms.

Former President Donald Trump has also chimed in. During his campaign, Youngkin avoided discussing Trump, perhaps given the fact that the former president lost Virginia last year. Trump, however, still endorsed him.

“The MAGA movement is bigger and stronger than ever before,” Trump said Tuesday night.

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