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Election Day 2021: What to watch as Americans hit the polls

Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin
Posted at 10:20 AM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 10:20:49-04

Tuesday marks Election Day in the U.S., and around the country, Americans will hit the polls.

Tuesday's races are highlighted by a contentious gubernatorial race in Virginia and special elections in Ohio. Here's what to watch as polls close this evening.

Race for governor in Virginia

In what could be a bellwether election for the 2022 midterms, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin are facing off in a race that is coming down to the wire.

McAuliffe and Youngkin are running to replace Democrat Ralph Northam, as Virginia prohibits governors from seeking consecutive terms in office.

McAuliffe is a known commodity in Virginia, as he served as governor prior to Northam from 2014 to 2018. He easily won the Democratic primary, cruising to a win over fellow Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy.

But while McAuliffe has the name recognition of a former governor, polling shows his race with Youngkin is a virtual toss-up. Youngkin has rallied conservative support by making education the focus of his campaign — particularly when it comes to how public educators teach about the history of race relations in the U.S.

Should Youngkin prevail, he'd be just the second Republican to win a gubernatorial election in Virginia since 1998 and the first since 2010.

Race for governor in New Jersey

In the Garden State, Democrat Phil Murphy is seeking his second term as New Jersey's governor. He's facing off against Republican Jack Ciattarelli, who faces an uphill battle if he plans to turn New Jersey red.

A poll from Monmouth University last week found that Murphy holds an 11-point lead over Ciattarelli.

While five of the last six New Jersey governors have been Democrats, none of the previous four Democrats that preceded Murphy served more than four years in office. The lone Republican that was elected in that span, Chris Christie, served as governor from 2010 to 2018.

Ohio special elections

Two Congressional seats are up for grabs in Ohio, though polls indicate that it's unlikely that the seats will change party control.

In Ohio's 15th district — an area spanning suburban southern Columbus into the rural southeastern part of the state — Republican Mike Carey holds a comfortable lead over Democrat State Rep. Allison Russo. The two are running to replace Republican Rep. Steve Stivers, who stepped down in May to run Ohio's Chamber of Commerce.

In the Cleveland area, Democrat Shontel Brown and Republican Laverne Gore are squaring off in Ohio's 11th district to replace Marcia Fudge, who took over the Department of Housing and Urban Development this year.

Brown, a moderate candidate, won a high-profile primary battle earlier this year over Nina Turner, who was endorsed by progressive lawmakers like Bernie Sanders.

The district is reliably Democratic. But should Gore prevail, it would shrink the Dems already slim margin of control in the House of Representatives.

New York's mayoral race

In the Big Apple, Democrat Eric Adams and Republican Curtis Sliwa are facing off to replace Bill de Blasio, who will term out on Dec. 31.

Prior to working in politics, Adams served as an NYPD cop for 22 years. He later served in the New York State Senate and as the borough president of Brooklyn.

Adams prevailed in a chaotic primary election that was marred by confusion over the city's new ranked-choice voting system. Officials at one point retracted results from a round of counting due to a miscount.

Sliwa is best known for founding the Guardian Angels, a volunteer nonprofit that makes citizen's arrests for violent crimes in New York. Though politicians at first distanced themselves from the group, they've since been endorsed by mayors like Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg.

A poll released last week shows that Adams holds a large lead over Sliwa.