2021 United States gubernatorial elections

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2021 United States gubernatorial elections

← 2020 November 2, 2021
September 14 (California recall)
2022 →

3 governorships
(including a recall election in California)
  Majority party Minority party
Party Republican Democratic
Seats before 27 23
Seats after 28 22
Seat change Increase1 Decrease1
Popular vote 2,918,691[a] 2,939,475[a]
Percentage 49.43%[a] 49.79%[a]
Seats up 0 3
Seats won 1 2

2021 California gubernatorial recall election2021 New Jersey gubernatorial election2021 Virginia gubernatorial election2021 United States gubernatorial elections results map.svg
About this image
Map of the results
     Democratic hold
     Republican gain
     No election

United States gubernatorial elections were held on November 2, 2021, in two states, New Jersey and Virginia, and a recall election was held in California on September 14. These elections form part of the 2021 United States elections. The last gubernatorial elections for New Jersey and Virginia were in 2017, and the last regular gubernatorial election for California was in 2018. Going into the elections, all three seats were held by Democrats.

In Virginia, term-limited incumbent Ralph Northam was succeeded by Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin. In New Jersey, incumbent Phil Murphy won re-election. In California, an unsuccessful special election to recall incumbent Gavin Newsom was held on September 14, 2021.[1][2]

Despite failing to flip the state, Republican nominee Jack Ciattarelli had actually swung the state of New Jersey slightly more Republican from the 2020 presidential election than fellow Republican Glenn Youngkin did in the election in Virginia, where he managed to flip the seat. This was the first time since 1981, that every gubernatorial election in this cycle was won by single digits.

Election predictions[edit]

Several sites and individuals published predictions of competitive seats. These predictions looked at factors such as the strength of the incumbent (if the incumbent is running for re-election), the strength of the candidates, and the partisan leanings of the state (reflected in part by the state's Cook Partisan Voting Index rating). The predictions assigned ratings to each seat, with the rating indicating a party's predicted advantage in winning that seat.

Most election predictors use:

  • "tossup": no advantage
  • "tilt" (used by some predictors): advantage that is not quite as strong as "lean"
  • "lean": slight advantage
  • "likely": significant, but surmountable, advantage
  • "safe" or "solid": near-certain chance of victory
State PVI Incumbent Last
October 5,
November 1,
November 1
California D+14 Gavin Newsom
61.9% D Likely D Likely D Likely D Newsom
61.9% D
New Jersey D+6 Phil Murphy 56.0% D Solid D Solid D Likely D Murphy
51.2% D
Virginia D+2 Ralph Northam
53.9% D Tossup Tossup Lean R (flip) Youngkin
50.6% R (flip)

Race summary[edit]

State Incumbent Party First
Result Candidates
Gavin Newsom Democratic 2018 Recall failed.
  • Red XN No 61.9%
  • Yes 38.1%
New Jersey Phil Murphy Democratic 2017 Incumbent re-elected.
Virginia Ralph Northam Democratic 2017 Incumbent term-limited.
New governor elected.
Republican gain.

Closest races[edit]

States where the margin of victory was under 5%:

  1. Virginia, 1.94%
  2. New Jersey, 3.22%

Blue denotes states won by Democrats. Red denotes states won by Republicans.

California (recall)[edit]

2021 California gubernatorial recall election

← 2018 September 14, 2021 2022 →

2021 California gubernatorial recall election referendum results map by county.svg
County results

Governor Gavin Newsom was elected in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. In 2020 and 2021, a recall petition gained momentum due to the COVID-19 pandemic in California and Newsom's responses, eventually triggering a recall election.[10][11] The ballot featured two questions, whether to recall Newsom and who would have replaced him if he had been recalled. Newsom was ineligible to run as a candidate for the second question.

A large number of candidates announced their intention to replace Newsom. Among the most prominent Republicans in the race included 2018 Republican nominee John H. Cox, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, media personalities Caitlyn Jenner and Larry Elder, in addition to former U.S. representative Doug Ose.[12][13][14][15][16]

The recall failed, and thus Newsom remained in office for the rest of his term, which expired on January 2, 2023.

2021 California gubernatorial recall election
Choice Votes %
Referendum failed No 7,944,092 61.88
Yes 4,894,473 38.12
Valid votes 12,838,565 99.58
Invalid or blank votes 54,013 0.42
Total votes 12,892,578 100.00
Registered voters/turnout 22,057,154 58.45
Source: California Secretary of State

New Jersey[edit]

2021 New Jersey gubernatorial election

← 2017
2025 →
  Phil Murphy for Governor (cropped 2).jpg Jack Ciattarelli December 2021 (cropped 2).jpg
Nominee Phil Murphy Jack Ciattarelli
Party Democratic Republican
Running mate Sheila Oliver Diane Allen
Popular vote 1,339,471 1,255,185
Percentage 51.2% 48.0%

2021 New Jersey gubernatorial election results map by county.svg
County results

Governor before election

Phil Murphy

Elected Governor

Phil Murphy

Governor Phil Murphy was elected in 2017 with 56% of the vote.[17] He ran for re-election to a second term and was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Republican Jack Ciattarelli was the earliest to announce his candidacy for the governorship in February 2018.[7] He was followed by New Jersey Republican Party chairman Doug Steinhardt, who announced his campaign in December 2020 and withdrew his candidacy the next month.[18][19] Pastor Phil Rizzo and businessman Hirsh Singh ran for the nomination.[20][21] Ciattarelli won the Republican primary.[22]

The Libertarian Party announced activist Gregg Mele as their nominee in March.[23] The Green Party nominated their candidate Madelyn Hoffman at a convention in April.[24] Other minor candidates included Socialist Workers Party nominee Joanne Kuniansky and perennial candidate Ed Forchion of the Legalize Marijuana Party[25] who ran as a write-in after challenges to signatures from the Murphy campaign.

Murphy won re-election after several media outlets called the race for him over Ciattarelli on November 3, 2021.[26] Murphy's close election was surprising given he had the lead in every poll leading up to the election day. Moreover, Murphy trailed Ciattarelli from early voting at the start of the ballot count, taking the lead early Wednesday morning.

Democratic primary results[27]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Philip Murphy (incumbent) 382,984 100.0%
Total votes 382,984 100.0%
Republican primary results[27]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jack Ciattarelli 167,690 49.46%
Republican Philip Rizzo 87,007 25.66%
Republican Hirsh V. Singh 73,155 21.58%
Republican Brian D. Levine 11,181 3.30%
Total votes 339,033 100.0%
2021 New Jersey gubernatorial election[28]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
1,339,471 51.22% –4.81
Republican 1,255,185 48.00% +6.11
  • Madelyn R. Hoffman
  • Heather Warburton
8,450 0.32% –0.15
  • Gregg Mele
  • Eveline Brownstein
7,768 0.30% –0.19
Socialist Workers
  • Joanne Kuniansky
  • Vivian Sahner
4,012 0.15% N/A
Total votes 2,614,886 100.00%
Turnout 2,648,814 40.47% +1.97
Registered electors 6,545,250
Democratic hold


2021 Virginia gubernatorial election

← 2017
2025 →
  Glenn Youngkin Headshot (cropped 2).jpg Terry McAuliffe 2020 (cropped 2).jpg
Nominee Glenn Youngkin Terry McAuliffe
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,663,158 1,599,470
Percentage 50.6% 48.6%

2021 Virginia gubernatorial election results map by county.svg
County and independent city results

Governor before election

Ralph Northam

Elected Governor

Glenn Youngkin

Governor Ralph Northam was elected in 2017 with 53.9% of the vote.[29] He was term-limited in 2021, as the Virginia Constitution does not allow governors to serve consecutive terms.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, former governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe, state senator Jennifer McClellan, state delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, and state delegate Lee Carter announced their candidacies for the Democratic nomination for the governorship.[30][31][32] Virginia attorney general Mark Herring previously announced his intention to run for the governorship but withdrew from the race to seek reelection as attorney general.[33] McAuliffe won the Democratic primary by a wide margin despite the large field of candidates.[34]

State senator Amanda Chase announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination for the governorship in February 2020.[35][36] After initially indicating a brief attempt at an independent run because of the state Republicans' decision to hold a convention instead of a primary,[37] Chase later returned to seek her party's nomination once more.[38] Kirk Cox, the former Republican speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, filed the paperwork to run for the governorship in September 2020.[39] Businessman Glenn Youngkin won the Republican nomination after six rounds of voting at the convention.[40]

Princess Blanding, a teacher and sister of the late Marcus-David Peters, was the newly-founded Liberation Party's gubernatorial candidate.[41]

In the general election on November 2, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat and former Governor Terry McAuliffe, making him the first Republican to win a statewide election in Virginia since 2009. Republicans also flipped the lieutenant governor, attorney general and House of Delegates races that were held concurrently.[42]

Democratic primary results[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terry McAuliffe 307,367 62.10%
Democratic Jennifer Carroll Foy 98,052 19.81%
Democratic Jennifer McClellan 58,213 11.76%
Democratic Justin Fairfax 17,606 3.56%
Democratic Lee J. Carter 13,694 2.77%
Total votes 494,932 100.00%
Virginia GOP Convention, Governor Nominee[44]
Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6
Votes % Votes % Votes % Votes % Votes % Votes %
Glenn Youngkin 4131.80 32.9% 4140.55 33.0% 4148.91 33.0% 4331.93 34.5% 5311.43 42.3% 6869.22 54.7%
Pete Snyder 3241.61 25.8% 3243.84 25.8% 3249.71 25.9% 3502.91 27.9% 4078.25 32.5% 5684.78 45.3%
Amanda Chase 2605.89 20.8% 2611.54 20.8% 2619.83 20.9% 2859.39 22.8% 3164.32 25.2% Eliminated
Kirk Cox 1693.58 13.5% 1698.13 13.5% 1705.90 13.6% 1859.77 14.8% Eliminated
Sergio de la Peña 805.35 6.4% 812.44 6.5% 829.65 6.6% Eliminated
Peter Doran 42.28 0.3% 47.50 0.4% Eliminated
Octavia Johnson 33.48 0.3% Eliminated
2021 Virginia gubernatorial election[45]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Glenn Youngkin 1,663,158 50.58% +5.61%
Democratic Terry McAuliffe 1,599,470 48.64% -5.26%
Liberation Princess Blanding 23,107 0.70% +0.70%
Write-in 2,592 0.08% +0.03%
Total votes 3,288,327 100% N/A
Turnout 3,296,705 55.39%
Registered electors 5,951,368
Republican gain from Democratic


  1. ^ a b c d This excludes the result of the 2021 California gubernatorial recall election, where voters were asked whether to keep or recall Gavin Newsom instead of voting for him or a different candidate. If the no votes are presumed to be and are counted as votes for the Democratic and yes votes are counted for Republican Party, the total number of votes would account to 10,883,567 (58.07%) votes for Democrats and 7,813,164 (41.69%) for Republicans.


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  2. ^ Korte, Lara (July 1, 2021). "Gavin Newsom recall election date set: California voters to cast ballots in September". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  3. ^ "2022 Governor Race ratings". The Cook Political Report. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  4. ^ "Gubernatorial Ratings". Inside Elections. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  5. ^ "2022 Gubernatorial race ratings". Sabato's Crystal Ball. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
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  7. ^ a b "Republican Says He Plans to Run for NJ Governor in 2021". U.S. News & World Report. February 13, 2018.
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  28. ^ "Official List, Candidates for Governor For GENERAL ELECTION 11/02/2021 Election" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. November 30, 2021. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
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  30. ^ Mattingly, Justin. "Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy files paperwork to run for governor". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
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