Corrections and clarifications: A previous version of this story misidentified Michelle Wu’s background.
Glenn Youngkin won the race to become Virginia’s next governor on Tuesday.
Youngkin, 54, defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe even as the leaders of McAuliffe’s party made a heavy push to help him over the finish line in a race that polls showed was tightening ahead of Election Day.
Youngkin never campaigned directly with his party’s top surrogate, former President Donald Trump, but had Trump’s support in a race that was closely watched for hints about what it might portend for the 2022 midterm elections.
Like Trump, Youngkin came to politics from the business world. He worked in private equity before campaigning for governor.
ELECTION RESULTS LIVE UPDATES: Get the latest on results from across the country
Youngkin defeats McAuliffe:Glenn Youngkin defeats Terry McAuliffe for Virginia governor, dealing Democrats a setback
In New Jersey, Republican Jack Ciattarelli held a slight lead over incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, but the race was too close to call.
The gubernatorial contests were two of a number of races across the U.S. that will help set the stage for the 2022 midterm elections.
Meanwhile, history was made in local races across the U.S. Michelle Wu became the first elected female mayor of Boston and Democrat Eric Adams was elected New York’s second Black mayor, while Alvin Bragg became Manhattan’s first Black district attorney.
Tuesday’s results will be dissected for any inkling of what they can tell us about 2022, when Republicans will try to retake control of Congress from the slim Democratic majority.
Democrats have an eight-seat advantage in the House and control the split Senate. All 435 seats in the House will be up for election in 2022 along with 34 seats in the Senate.
Long night in New Jersey: Governor’s race is too close to call
The New Jersey gubernatorial candidates addressed supporters in the wee hours of Wednesday without knowing who might win their shockingly close contest.
Democratic incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy and Republican Jack Ciattarelli are separated by just a few thousand votes.
“We’re gonna wait for every vote to be counted, and that’s how our democracy works,” said Murphy, who once enjoyed huge poll leads but found himself locked in a dead heat with Ciattarelli.
Ciattarelli, a former New Jersey General Assembly member and once a huge underdog to Murphy, told his supporters he is eager to declare victory, but couldn’t yet do so.
“We want every legal vote counted,” he said.
– David Jackson
An excited Glenn Youngkin claimed the governor’s office in Virginia by telling supporters he would pursue a transformation of the state’s economy and school system.
“We can build a new day,” Youngkin told screaming supporters at a hotel in northern Virginia early Wednesday mornin
Youngkin, a decided underdog at the start of the campaign, overtook Democrat Terry McAuliffe by stressing education – especially the teaching of race and history – and the economy.
“Together, we will change the trajectory of this Commonwealth,” Youngkin said in his victory speech.
Because the race was not called until early Wednesday, Youngkin did not address his supporters until after 1 a.m.
Semi-apologizing, Youngkin joked: “Breakfast will be served shortly.”
– David Jackson
Democratic state Rep. Ed Gainey became the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
A five-term member of the Pennsylvania state House, Gainey was heavily favored to win against Republican opponent Tony Moreno. He led in the polls by 71% compared to 29% for Moreno, according to The New York Times.
Gainey was inspired to run after the protests following the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died in police custody in May 2020, according to The Hill.
– Chelsey Cox
Michelle Wu, 36, won a hotly contested mayoral race in Boston after fellow council member and Democrat Annissa Essaibi George conceded Tuesday. Wu gained 56% of votes compared to 43% for George.
Wu is a Harvard Law graduate who served on the council since 2014. She is the first woman and first woman of color elected mayor of the commonwealth capital, breaking a streak of white male city leaders.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, along with Rep. Ayanna Pressley, all from Massachusetts, campaigned with Wu, along with acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey. Janey, a Black woman, was appointed after previously elected mayor Marty Walsh stepped down to become secretary of Labor under President Joe Biden.
– Chelsey Cox
Republican Ciattarelli leading in New Jersey governor’s race
With a little more than 60% of the vote counted, Republican Jack Ciattarelli leads incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy by a little more than 3 percentage points in the race for New Jersey governor.
There are many votes outstanding, and the well-funded Murphy enjoyed a healthy lead in preelection polls – but he has trailed most of the night.
Ciattarelli is a former member of the New Jersey General Assembly.
– David Jackson
McAuliffe says there are still votes to count in Virginia governor’s race
Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe declined to concede the Virginia governor’s race to Republican Glenn Youngkin, telling supporters late Tuesday there are still “votes to count.”
Absentee ballots and Democratic areas remained uncounted as McAuliffe spoke with supporters. “The fight continues,” he said.
McAuliffe trailed Youngkin by more than 5 percentage points with more than 87% of the votes counted.
“We’ve still got a lot of votes to count,” McAuliffe said. “We’ve got about 18% of the vote out, so we’re going to continue to count the votes because every single Virginian deserves to have their vote counted.”
– David Jackson
Push to disband Minneapolis police fails despite calls for reform after George Floyd death
A push to disband the Minneapolis police department failed Tuesday for the second time since George Floyd’s death sparked nationwide calls for police reform.
Minneapolis residents voted not to replace the city’s police department – which is facing a federal investigation – with a new Department of Public Safety that would have likely included law enforcement, 911 responders and mental health professionals.
The proposal would have amended the city’s charter to remove the requirement that the city have a police department with a minimum level of funding and staffing.
– N’dea Yancey-Bragg
Republican Mike Carey, a coal lobbyist, won the House seat in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, according to the Associated Press.
Carey defeated Democrat Allison Russo, who was endorsed by President Joe Biden, in the Republican-leaning district. The election was held to replace former Rep. Steve Stivers, a Republican, who resigned his seat for a role in the private sector.
– Sean Rossman
With a little more than 34% of the vote counted in the New Jersey governor’s race, Republican Jack Ciattarelli has a slight lead over Democratic incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy.
There’s a long way to go, and the well-funded Murphy enjoyed a healthy lead in pre-election polls.
But Ciattarelli, a former member of the New Jersey General Assembly, is already doing better than expected.
– David Jackson
Democrat Alvin Bragg was elected Tuesday as Manhattan’s first Black district attorney, a position that will give him oversight of prosecutions and ongoing investigations involving former President Donald Trump.
Bragg, a civil rights lawyer and former federal prosecutor, defeated Republican Thomas Kenniff to join a growing wave of progressive, reform-minded prosecutors across the country.
He will take over in January from the current district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., who is retiring after a final term in which he prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for rape and brought tax evasion charges against the Trump Organization and its longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg.
– Michael R. Sisak, Associated Press
Eric Adams, the former police captain who campaigned on a message of public safety, was elected New York City mayor Tuesday.
Adams will become New York’s second Black mayor and inherit a city at a pivotal time in economic recovery from the pandemic.
Adams, a Democrat, defeated longshot Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa after he narrowly won his party’s nomination in June during a crowded Democratic primary.
The Brooklyn borough president and former state senator will replace the term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio in January.
– Ryan Miller
Virginia: Youngkin leads big, but outstanding votes remain to be counted
With 54% of the vote counted, Republican Glenn Youngkin enjoyed a double-digit lead over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s race – but the Associated Press and the networks held off on projecting a winner because many Democratic areas have yet to report.
“Virginia governor’s race too early to call,” CNN said shortly after 8:30 p.m.
Virginia has also to count absentee and mail-in votes, and those could well favor McAuliffe.
The Democratic candidate did sound a note of resignation in an e-mail thanking supporters.
In Fairfax, education and a worry about Trump
FAIRFAX, Va. — Mary Wagner, a retired public schoolteacher from Fairfax, was raised Republican — but today she’s handing out sample ballots at the Democratic booth outside the Fairfax Government Center, “hoping and praying” that Terry McAuliffe (D) will win out over Glenn Youngkin (R) in the state’s gubernatorial race.
“I taught in the public schools for 39 years, and education is extremely important to me,” said Wagner on what pushed her away from the Republican party. “If anybody is a good governor for this state for education, it would be Terry McAuliffe.”
Youngkin, on the other hand, “would like to take money and give it to the private schools, and make charter schools. And McAuliffe knows better than that.”
Wagner is also wary of Youngkin’s affiliation with former President Donald Trump, and stories she’s heard of Youngkin promising to let Trump have a hand in governing Virginia.
“That’s just awful. I want no part of the Republican party like that,” Wagner said. “No part of it.”
— Julia Mueller
FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia — For some voters outside of Hugh Mercer Elementary School on Election Day, which gubernatorial hopeful gets their vote comes down to education.
Caryn Vezina, 38, voted for Republican Glenn Youngkin. She said she likes his education politics and wants Virginia to go in another direction.
Vezina said Youngkin appeals to her experience as a mother and a preschool teacher.
“It didn’t make me happy that McAuliffe said that, you know, parents shouldn’t be involved with their children’s education,” Vezina said.
Vezina was referencing a statement Democrat Terry McAuliffe made in a gubernatorial debate on Sept. 29: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Lawyer Shana Gertner, 42, cast her vote for the Democrat. She said she cares about access to education and wants to keep the state blue.
“My child is in private school, but I do care about public school and I do feel as though a lot of parents don’t really grasp the issues,” Gertner said.
— Isabel Miller
Stafford voters disagree on role of Trump and Biden
STAFFORD, Va. — On a rainy Tuesday at H.H. Poole Middle School, voters expressed opposing sentiments on how views toward President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will affect today’s elections.
Kayla Thrasher, a 23-year-old student and assistant manager at Weis Markets, is a Democrat who describes herself as “very liberal.” She equated voting for Glenn Youngkin with voting for Trump.
“I’m not completely happy with how Biden is running the country right now, but I’m definitely 100% against Trump, so I’m kind of just voting against him,” Thrasher said, explaining her vote for former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.
However, some Republican voters criticized the role that Trump and Biden have played in local elections.
“The role that that’s playing in the [political] game right now is actually, I think, getting a little old,” said Michelle Merritt, a Republican, 38, who works as a realtor.
Merritt pointed to the McAuliffe ads that target those who oppose Trump, saying they wrongfully assume an association between local and presidential elections.
“I don’t think people are coming out today to vote for one [candidate] or the other because of the hatred of another candidate,” Merritt said. “I think they’re voting on their own opinion and making their own opinion based on just that candidate, not the hatred or the love of another candidate.”
— Courtney Degen
Voters who identified as Democrats and Republicans said they were concerned about wages — an issue that both Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin have said they would address if elected.
Debbie Johnson, 56, voted for Youngkin after the candidate promised to increase pay for teachers. As Johnson’s daughter is a teacher, she said she feels strongly about the issue.
“I think teachers need to get paid more. I think increasing standards is important in schools,” she said.
Danny Lopez, 51, voted for McAuliffe as a result of the Democrats’ stance on paid family leave. “[It] is something that I’m kind of most interested in. I want him to win,” Lopez said.”
Another voter, Alex Fleche, 39, tied the issue of wages back to the pandemic and said, “I want to see the middle class built back up and people being able to have an opportunity to have a living wage.”
Fleche said he is a “Democratic supporter across the board,” and remains optimistic about the outcome of today’s election.
— Allison Novelo and Annie Klingenberg
RICHMOND, Virginia – Education dominated concerns among voters outside the Richmond Public Library’s main branch in Henrico County.
“I think if teachers were to be fully respected — as politicians all say they should be — then they are in charge of children’s health and well-being and curriculum,” said Patti Wright, 69, of Richmond. “I am a little worried about that with this election.”
Wright, a retired schoolteacher, said she hopes people “will vote respectfully.”
Parental concerns over closures, mask mandates and so-called bias against white people in school curriculums pushed education issues to center stage in the gubernatorial race.
In their final campaign rallies ahead of Tuesday’s election, both Terry McAuliffe and Glen Youngkin discussed education.
McAuliffe on Sunday called for greater teacher diversity across the commonwealth. “We’ve got to diversify our teacher base here in Virginia,” the Democrat said at a rally in Charlottesville. He also promised to create a program to attract teachers of color, should he win the election.
Youngkin on Monday reaffirmed that he will “ban critical race theory in our schools,” despite an absence of material covering how racism operates in U.S. laws and society in the state’s K-12 curriculum.
“What we won’t do is teach our children to view everything through a lens of race, where we divide them into buckets and one group is an oppressor and the other is a victim and we pit them against each other and we steal their dreams,” Youngkin said to a crowd of several thousand in Loudoun County.
Youngkin’s line of thinking mirrrored a concern of 22-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University medical student Douglas Hogan when casting his vote.
“Specifically, not teaching critical race theory, things like that, in our schools,” Hogan said. “Teaching kids to think for themselves, not based on their race.”
For Whitney Tidwell, 33, of Richmond, the election gave her an opportunity for a different kind of education: to teach her young son about the electoral process.
“We’ve been talking about voting and choosing who represents our community, the values, so to show him that process and to talk to him about how we vote for people that we want to represent our community,” said Tidwell, who is Black.
– Cristobella Durrette, Medill
LOUDOUN COUNTY, Virginia – “We gave raises to the teachers for the first time in more than a decade,” said Wendy Gooditis outside the Ida Lee Park Recreation Center in Leesburg.
Gooditis, a Democrat, is up for reelection as the delegate for the 10th District of the Virginia House.
Education has been a hot button topic among Virginia voters. Gooditis, a former teacher, said she and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe are “committed to doing more for teachers.”
Outside the polling center in Leesburg on a drizzly Tuesday morning, Gooditis greeted voters after they cast their ballots and thanked poll workers.
This was one of a host of stops throughout her district, where she said she plans on discussing education and COVID-19 misinformation with constituents.
“(If) some percent of the population is being told stuff that just isn’t true, that’s not a referendum on the policy. It’s basically a referendum on who’s believing the lies, because there’s so many lies out there,” Gooditis said.
– Andrew Marquardt and Jonathan Lehrfeld, Medill
Ohio’s 15th congressional district could be another litmus test for the endorsement of the two major political party leaders.
President Joe Biden jumped into the district’s special election with an eleventh-hour endorsement of Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo on Monday. Former President Donald Trump already had backed Republican Mike Carey, a coal lobbyist.
The two candidates are running in a district that favors the GOP to replace former Rep. Steve Stivers, a Republican who resigned to take a job in the private sector.
Carey also has gotten a boost from national Republican groups and a campaign visit from former Vice President Mike Pence, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
– Rick Rouan
At one precinct in Augusta County, Virginia, chief election officer Lesley Piner said she had to ask the county for more ballots before lunchtime, having run out by 11 a.m.
Piner said the county only gave the precinct about 300 ballots for the day. They had surpassed that before noon.
“We’ve been very steady … more than I expected,” she said.
About 50 people in the precinct opted to vote early and more than 300 out of a total of 1,000 registered voters had voted in the morning — a number that shocked Piner.
“Normally, I would have thought we’d have 350 people for the entire day,” she said. “We’re going to surpass that, and it’s not even noon.”
Virginia’s polls close at 7 p.m.
– Laura Peters, Staunton News-Leader
Runoff likely in Atlanta mayoral race
ATLANTA — Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is trying to return for a third term and City Council President Felicia Moore is seeking to move up to the top spot as voting concludes Tuesday in the city’s mayoral race.
Confronting rising crime has been a major focus, but candidates have also addressed concerns about affordable housing, bolstering struggling city services and keeping the wealthy Buckhead neighborhood from seceding. Attacks on Reed over corruption in his administration have been a major subplot, although Reed says the federal investigation regarding him was closed without charges.
With a total of 14 candidates in the nonpartisan race, a Nov. 30 runoff is likely. Other top candidates include attorney Sharon Gay and council members Andre Dickens and Antonio Brown, with large numbers of voters undecided.
Meanwhile, Republicans are watching for any mistakes in Atlanta that could justify a state takeover of elections in heavily Democratic Fulton County, under a sweeping new state law approved amid unproven claims of fraud by former President Donald Trump and his allies.
The race was jolted when Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced in May that she wouldn’t seek a second term. Bottoms broke a decades-long tradition of mayors serving eight years, saying she wasn’t interested in a reelection bid. The last Atlanta mayor who served only a single term was Sam Massell, who lost to Maynard Jackson in 1973 as African Americans took power in city government.
– Associated Press
Voters with disabilities are enjoying a new era of political relevance this Election Day thanks to the COVID pandemic — both the reforms it spurred and the inequities it laid bare.
People with disabilities showed “large gains” in 2020’s voter turnout, said Steve Flamisch of Rutgers University’s Program for Disability Research, referring to a report by the university and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Turnout rose to 17.7 million, up from 16 million in 2016, thanks to mail-in ballots and other initiatives, according to the group, which looked at national data.
– Gene Myers, NorthJersey.com
Eric Adams, a Democrat who is considered the frontrunner to win New York’s mayoral election, would be the second Black mayor in the city’s history if he is elected on Tuesday.
Adams is running against Republican Curtis Sliwa as the top elected official in America’s most populous city. Democrats outnumber Republicans in New York 7-to-1.
Adams is a former police captain and state senator. Sliwa founded a subway safety patrol group.
– Rick Rouan
Voting law changes tested in first election since 2020 presidential contest
Election Day is the first test for some of the hundreds of new voting laws adopted in the year since the 2020 election.
USA TODAY analyzed 254 new laws in 45 states passed since voters cast their ballots last year in the highest turnout election in American history. The analysis reveals changes, seen and unseen, to how we vote.
Those laws include changes to the number of days available for early voting and the hours available to cast ballots on Election Day.
In Boston, the contest between city council members Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu means whomever wins will become the city’s first woman and first person of color elected mayor.
The candidates, both Democrats in a nonpartisan race, have chiefly clashed over issues such as affordable housing, public education and transportation. But differences on policing and crime have also emerged.
Wu, daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and a protégé of liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has called for major police reforms. Before she was a candidate, Wu joined other city council members in calling for a 10% cut to the police department’s budget.
Essaibi George, who describes herself as Polish-Arab American, has opposed reallocating the money and has called for hiring several hundred more police officers. She was endorsed by former Boston police Commissioner William Gross.
– Associated Press
Boston mayoral candidate Michelle Wu campaigns in this file photo from Oct. 23, 2021. On Tuesday, Wu, a daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, faces off against Annissa Essaibi George. Whoever wins will be the first woman and first person of color elected to the city’s top political office.
Boston mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George campaigns in the Mattapan neighborhood in this Oct. 23, 2021, file photo. She is running against Michelle Wu in the historic election in a city that’s only elected white men as mayor.
Florida primary to narrow field for congressional seat
Eleven Democrats, two Republicans and a handful of other candidates are running in the southern Florida district.
The special general election is scheduled for Jan. 11.
– Rick Rouan
While the Virginia governor’s race has been getting much of the national attention in the runup to Election Day, some other elections also could tell us more about what to expect in the 2022 midterm election.
Tigher-than-expected races for New Jersey governor and Ohio’s 15th congressional district could drop some hints about which way the political weather vane is pointing in 2022. Democrats will be trying to cling to their slim majority in the House next year.