Terry McAuliffe Elected Governor of Virginia in Bitter, Close Race

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Democrat Terry McAuliffe was elected governor of Virginia in a race over Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that was as close as it was bitter.

McAuliffe topped Cuccinelli in a surprisingly razor-thin 47-46 percent victory to become Virginia's next governor, ending a divisive, polarizing campaign.

McAuliffe's win breaks a long Virginia tradition going all the way back to 1977 of voting for a governor from the opposing party of the sitting U.S. president.

Virginia, unlike most states in America, only allows one term as governor, so a new individual is chosen to lead the Commonwealth every four years.

Virginia was one of two U.S. states choosing governors Tuesday, along with New Jersey, where popular Republican Gov. Chris Christie was re-elected.

A slew of local elections also took place, including elections for big-city mayors (Bill de Blasio will lead New York City) and various state ballot initiatives.

Both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli did very well among their own partisans - each getting more than nine in 10 votes from members of their own parties.

Cuccinelli had a nine-point edge among independents, who make up three in 10 voters. But McAuliffe did better than Cuccinelli in getting out his base.

McAuliffe won also among voters under 45 and college graduates - both groups the GOP won four years ago - and led among moderates and women.

There are important changes to the demographic turnout from 2009 that made the race so close this year. The conservative vote was down slightly.

A majority of white voters - 56 percent - favored Cuccinelli, but their percentage of the electorate was down slightly as well. African-American turnout was up.

Regionally, while Cuccinelli won in the more conservative and rural western and central regions of Virginia, while McAuliffe had the edge in the swing districts.

In the heavily and increasingly Democratic D.C. suburbs, McAuliffe outperformed Cuccinelli by almost two-to-one, which was enough to pull out a nail-biter.

The Virginia race has been a particularly vicious contest marked mostly by personal attacks flung back and forth during the course of the campaign.

Cuccinelli has charged McAuliffe with running a dishonest, unserious campaign; McAuliffe had attempted to paint Cuccinelli as a far-right extremist.

Things were so dismal that two of the state's major papers - the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Roanoke Times - declined to endorse either candidate.

"We cannot in good conscience endorse a candidate," said the Times-Dispatch.

"The major-party candidates have earned the citizenry's derision. The third-party alternative has run a more exemplary race yet does not qualify as a suitable option."

President Barack Obama endorsed McAuliffe, as did his longtime allies Bill and Hillary Clinton, who is widely discussed as a 2016 White House hopeful.

With Virginia a key swing state, and McAuliffe renowned as a prolific fundraiser, Clinton stood to benefit significantly from his win ... if she runs, that is.

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