MCLEAN, Virginia – Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s camp was in shock as Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin took the lead in a state President Biden won by 10 points just a year ago.
Youngkin emerged with a slim lead in the polls over McAuliffe ahead of election day, foreshadowing his strong performance on Tuesday.
ELECTION DAY: VIRGINIA AND NEW JERSEY HOLD KEY GOVERNOR ELECTIONS SEEN AS REFERENDUM BIDEN: LIVE
McAuliffe’s election night was initially buzzing with excitement as supporters waited for the polls to close. But that enthusiasm gradually shifted over the night, as Democratic hopes for a quick victory faded.
Most of the room had emptied before Youngkin even addressed supporters of his own party.
Even though the results showed Youngkin had a clear lead, Virginia Democratic Representative Don Beyer – who was present at McAuliffe’s electoral party – said he was “still optimistic” that McAuliffe would win.
“We thought for several weeks that this would be a very close election, that she would probably be late, and so far it’s on track,” Beyer told Fox News.
“Rural Virginia arrived in the first relatively small districts. Youngkin won them easily. “
“I think when the big jurisdictions in northern Virginia come in – they’ve had a lot of advance votes, which are the last ones counted,” the Virginia congressman continued. “It should get very close and I’m still optimistic McAuliffe will have, not a big win but a narrow win.”
“50.1 [percent] and they call you governor, ”he added.
But as the election results continued to show Youngkin’s strong performance, the atmosphere in the room changed. He was no longer brimming with optimism.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Although the race has yet to be called, many McAuliffe supporters have left the party and have not returned.
“A very difficult game,” said one fan leaving the event. Others just calmed down and looked worried.
Houston Keene is a reporter for Fox News Digital. You can find him on Twitter at @HoustonKeene.