What’s up in Virginia? [UPDATED — Warner ahead]

Early in the campaign season, I had some hope that Republican Ed Gillespie would unseat incumbent Mark Warner. As the season went on, however, I saw no evidence that Gillespie had a serious shot.

But now, with almost half the vote counted, Gillespie leads Warner 51.8 to 45.6. In absolute terms, he leads by almost 60,000 votes.

Virginia returns can fluctuate pretty dramatically during the course of an evening. As I recall, James Webb left it late in overtaking George Allen back in 2006.

Accordingly, we shouldn’t get too excited about this race. On the other hand, it’s somewhat exciting that the race is too close to call at this stage.

UPDATED: Now, more than two-thirds of the precincts have reported. Gillespie continues to hold a clear lead. He’s up by 5 points and 75,000 votes.

Meanwhile, Barbara Comstock, a GOP insider, has kept Republicans in control of an open seat in the D.C. suburbs. Indeed, Comstock is cruising to victory in a race that, not long ago, was thought to be quite competitive.

MORE: Warner is making the traditional Democrat late charge and now seems likely to overtake Gillespie, in my opinion.

WARNER TAKES THE LEAD: The incumbent is now ahead by 11,000 votes with 93 percent of the expected vote reported.

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