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• Election Night: In race that wound up shockingly close, Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly held off Republican Ken Cuccinelli to become Virginia's next governor. McAuliffe eked out a 48-45 victory, even though polling averages suggested he should prevail by around 7 points. Only the unheralded student-run Emerson College Polling Society came close to predicting McAuliffe's final margin, though they gave Libertarian Robert Sarvis double the vote share he actually wound up with.

We'll undoubtedly see a great deal of introspection among (and criticism of) pollsters for their failure here, though interestingly, the polling averages were quite accurate in Virginia's two other races. Democrat Ralph Northam easily beat Republican E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor, winning 55-45; HuffPo Pollster's aggregate gave Dems a 12-point edge. The attorney general's contest was too close to call when we put the Digest to bed, with Republican Mark Obenshain up by fewer than 1,000 votes over Democrat Mark Herring, according to the AP—a perfect reflection of the dead-even average there.

So whatever went awry in the polling seemed to be confined only to the governor's race. Could there have been a "shy Tory" effect, whereby conservative voters were reluctant to admit to pollsters that their views aligned with Cuccinelli's? Many theories will abound, but whatever anyone concludes, this was a major miss by the polling establishment, and Republicans will probably be gnashing their teeth over their narrow loss.

Meanwhile, as expected, Republican Gov. Chris Christie rode to a huge win over Democrat Barbara Buono in the New Jersey governor's race, while Democrat Bill de Blasio crushed Republican Joe Lhota to become New York City's next mayor. (More on that contest below.) Christie's big victory, though, largely failed to yield coattails in the legislative races further down the ballot, with only one confirmed GOP pickup in the Assembly and none in the Senate.

Democrats also came away disappointed in Virginia, where they made few gains in the House of Delegates, though the AP differed from official sources at press time. Data from the state Board of Elections showed Dems with a net one-seat pickup (Republicans won an uncontested dark red Dem-held open seat), while the AP indicated Dems had gained two seats, with two other tight races uncalled. Frustratingly, Republicans won or were leading in as many as seven races with less than 52 percent of the vote each.

In Alabama, ex-state Sen. Bradley Byrne defeated tea partying businessman Dean Young by a 52-48 margin in the special election runoff in the state's very conservative 1st Congressional District; Byrne will easily win the special general next month to fill ex-Rep. Jo Bonner's seat. In addition to New York, Democrats also picked up mayoral seats in Greensboro, NC and St. Petersburg, FL, with the latter especially interesting since St. Pete makes up about a quarter of the swingy FL-13, where a special election will be held in March.

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Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Virginia Kos and Daily Kos.

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