Republican Glenn Youngkin has been elected as Virginia’s next governor in a major upset, with his Democratic opponent conceding the race.
The ballot has been widely seen as a referendum on Joe Biden’s presidency, and defeat will unnerve the Democrats.
He won by 10 points in Virginia in the presidential election just a year ago.
But rising inflation, a slow economic recovery, a deadlocked legislative agenda and the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan have hit his popularity.
In a speech to cheering supporters, Mr Youngkin promised to get to work straight away to transform the state.
“We work in real people time, not government time,” the Republican declared.
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Mr McAuliffe served as governor from 2014-18. His opinion poll lead vanished in recent weeks, and in a statement after his loss said he had “come up short” but insisted the state remained on a path towards “inclusion, openness and tolerance for all”.
The state’s current, Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, was unable to stand for re-election as Virginia does not allow governors to serve consecutive terms in office.