Voters across the country are heading to the polls Tuesday to decide a series of races that will test the national political landscape and the direction of the Democratic Party a year into Biden's presidency.
Here are the key races to watch today:
- Virginia governor's race: Virginia's gubernatorial contest between Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin will be the most closely watched race of the night, serving as a key bellwether for national sentiment headed into the 2022 midterms and beyond. Virginia has tilted toward Democrats over the last decade, but McAuliffe and Youngkin are locked in what polls show to be a neck-and-neck race with more than 1.1 million ballots already cast during early voting. A win for McAuliffe would be a validation for President Biden and his agenda, while a win for Youngkin, who has tried to walk a fine line on handling support from former President Donald Trump, would provide a jolt of momentum for Republicans and could provide Republicans running in competitive states with a roadmap for handling Trump.
- New Jersey governor's race: Gov. Phil Murphy appears to have a comfortable lead in his bid to become the first Democratic governor of New Jersey to be re-elected since 1977. Barring a remarkable upset by GOP challenger Jack Ciattarelli, the streak will be broken and Democrats will have some evidence that an executive who has championed mask and vaccine mandates will be rewarded for it by voters. Victory for Murphy will also underscore the difficulty even moderate Republicans have distancing themselves from former President Trump, especially in blue states. Trump has steered clear of Ciattarelli, and Ciattarelli has kept his distance from the former President. But Murphy has hammered Ciattarelli, whose main message is on taxes, which voters have called the state's most pressing issue, on his appearance at a "Stop the Steal" rally last year. (Ciattarelli said he was not fully aware of the event's theme.)
- New York mayoral race: Eric Adams won the narrowest of contests to become the New York City Democrats' mayoral nominee. His race on Tuesday will be less dramatic – the Brooklyn borough president is a lock to be elected the next Big Apple mayor. His ascent, though, is about more than the city, as Adams and his campaign have been touted by top Democrats as a case study in how the party should go forward. Adams, a former police captain, has sought to portray himself as a working class candidate. While he has been dismissive, and sometimes confrontational, with the party's left-wing activists, Adams has also — on issues like public safety, the centerpiece of his campaign — adopted some progressive ideas about prevention and early intervention.
- Minnesota police referendum: Voters in Minneapolis, nearly a year-and-a-half after the murder of George Floyd, will go to the ballot box with a chance to either approve or reject a referendum that would significantly overhaul policing in the city. The referendum is being watched nationally as a test of the "defund the police" movement, a controversial slogan that gained traction among progressives in the wake of Floyd's killing and has since been used against Democrats across the country. If the measure passes, the city would create a Department of Public Safety, eliminate a requirement on the number of officers the city must have and split control of the new department between the city council and the mayor.
Read about other key races here.