What a McAuliffe Win Means for Virginia Politics

Lynchburg, VA - For the first time in nearly 40 years, Virginia has the same party leading the state, as the country.

Since 1974, the Commonwealth has elected an opposing party for its top spot, and Terry McAuliffe broke that streak Tuesday night.

Some analysts say the historic fact is pretty significant, while others say it's just a random statistic we should pay no mind to.

Political Science Professor Vincent Vecera says Virginia politics have been, and will continue to be moderate, no matter who's in the White House or the Governor's Mansion.

"Anybody who reads into that, they're reading tea leaves," said Vecera of anyone making a big deal out of a McAuliffe win during an Obama presidency.

"I don't think it means anything, I think it's a statistical quirk. I think it's a fluke. We're talking about like six events. I wouldn't read anything into it one way or the other."

Vecera says no matter the national leadership or gridlock in Washington, calmer heads usually prevail in Virginia politics.

"We have relatively moderate state government across the board. We have a responsible state government. We have institutions in our state government that are conducive to negotiation."

That is, after the elections of course.

"I suspect that once the rhetoric of the campaign calms down, Republicans are going to be able to work with Terry McAuliffe as well as any Democrat they could have hoped for," said Vecera.

In a still Republican-dominated General Assembly, Vecera says no life-altering legislation will get through from McAuliffe. The only real change he says we could expect is a higher tax rate.

"When someone wins an election by two points, you can't really claim that you have some broad popular mandate to do anything."

Vecera says that two points proved Virginians still like their candidates in the middle.

"They won with a moderate Democrat despite the fact that McAuliffe was a mediocre campaigner with a relatively scandalous history."

As for the future of Virginia's Republican party, Vecera says they will start to shy away from social issues. Exit polls from Tuesday's election show that voters who care most about social issues voted for McAuliffe. Those who care most about the economy voted for Cuccinelli.