Virginia is one of two states that has its elections in off-off years, the year after a Presidential election. (The other is New Jersey). As such, it is often seen as tea leaves about the opinions and leanings of the overall electorate. And even though this can be exaggerated, it is not unreasonable to base prognostications on an election for governor in what is a large, politically important state.
And I wrote that same paragraph in 2013.
Also, like in 2013, one of the candidates was Terry McAuliffe. Read what I wrote about him in 2013, it is still true.
But a lot has changed since 2013, the most important of which is the Republican Party's rejection of The Rule of Law in favor of a cult of personality, and the spread in the United States of America of a preventable disease that is killed some 700,000 people. Going into the election, the question was pretty much about one thing: whether citizens of a nation built on laws would accept those things. And sure, there was other issues: McAuliffe was never a charismatic politiican, his Republican challenger Youngkin positioned himself in the middle, or some shit like that. But on the whole, the fact that the Republican Party has not rejected ethnic politics, and has been incompetent enough to not only let, but encourage people dying, should be the only issue.
For most of the election, McAuliffe seemed to have a slight lead. In the last few days of the election, the polling indicated that this shifted. Part of this had to do with the national political climate. The pandemic was wearing on, inflation was starting up, people were uncertain. On election night, it turns out the polling was accurate, and Youngkin won with 50.6% of the vote.
Lets be clear. The reason that Youngkin won was that a majority of the electorate of Virginia was either racists, or okay with racism. The scary thing for them was not the Capitol being sacked, not hospitals overflowing with dying patients, but that people wanted to teach that the South was founded on racism. A made-up controversy about "Critical Race Theory", just a way to say that education should include unpleasant parts of history, is which tipped the needle and made plenty of "reasonable people" decide to vote for Youngkin.
So, in conclusion, in a year when the material and social fabric of the nation was wearing away, the majority of the Virginia electorate's main concern was that their identity was being undermined by a straw man on the internet being mad at them over the history of slavery and segregation.