The Virginia governor’s race has long held a unique place in the country’s political cycle as a key gauge of how the political winds are blowing for both Republicans and Democrats one year after the last presidential election and one year before the next congressional midterms.

In 2005, Democrat Tim Kaine’s win after President George W. Bush’s re-election foreshadowed the Democrats’ midterm victories a year later, as well as Barack Obama’s triumph later in the state, which the party hadn’t carried in a presidential contest since 1964.

In 2009, Republican Bob McDonnell’s victory previewed the tea party revolt against Democrats and the GOP’s national success a year later.

In 2013, Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s narrow win demonstrated the limits of the influence hard-line conservatives (like Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli) had in the state, but it also showed that Democratic performance was waning — which would come back to haunt the party in 2014 and 2016.

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