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How Tuesday's High Turnout Numbers Impacted the Results

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Voters turned out in massive numbers this week, exceeding expectations and setting new records.

Elections for governor usually don't turn out a particularly high percentage of voters. When Bob McDonnell was elected back in 2009, turnout was only 40%. When Ralph Northam was elected four years ago, it was 48%. This week, more than 55% of registered voters cast a ballot.

Republican strategist Dan Scandling says Glenn Youngkin's strategy clearly worked.

"They had to be able to equal what was going to come out of places like Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria, Norfolk, Portsmouth. And that's what they did," Scandling says. "They rolled up the numbers bigger and higher than ever been before. Just look at what happened in Southwest."

High turnout in rural Southwest helped put Youngkin over the top. Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett says the idea that high turnout elections benefit Republicans might end up being the new conventional wisdom.

"Democrats are doing better amongst well-educated voters that tend to vote in every election, and Republicans are doing better among voters who have spottier election histories," Tribbett explains. "And so I think in some ways the political North Pole has changed here, and Republicans may benefit from higher-turnout elections going forward."

Now, if Republicans end up winning a majority in the House when all the votes are certified, they may end up having to defend it pretty quickly. Because Census numbers were late, all 100 of those House of Delegates seats are probably going to be up for election again next year under new maps.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.