Voters line up in voting booths to cast their ballots at Robious Elementary School in Chesterfield, Va. on Nov. 8, 2016.
Photo by Shelby Lum/Richmond Times-Dispatch/AP

Races to watch on Election Day 2017

As a rule, off-year election cycles tend to generate quite a bit less attention, but for campaign watchers, today is shaping up to be a day worth watching closely.

The marquee contest is clearly the gubernatorial race in Virginia, where polls show a very tight race between Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie (R). Believe the hype: the outcome of this election will reverberate nationwide, and have a meaningful effect on everything from health care to voting rights to the GOP relying on nativism to win elections nationwide.

But it’s not the only race of consequence today. Here are a few of the other elections I’m keeping an eye on:

* New Jersey’s gubernatorial race: Former Ambassador Phil Murphy (D) looks like the clear favorite over Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R), and if the polls are right, it creates a unique opportunity for Dems. A Murphy victory would put Dems in control of New Jersey’s state government, making it one of only seven states where Democrats have the governor’s office, the state House, and the state Senate.

* Medicaid in Maine: Thanks to Gov. Paul LePage (R), Maine is the only state in the Northeast that hasn’t adopted Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act. Voters today can change that and bring coverage to roughly 80,000 low-income Mainers. (Locally, the race is known as “Question 2.”)

* Washington’s state Senate: While state Senate elections tend not to generate much national interest, both parties are closely watching the race in Washington’s 45th district today. If Democrat Manka Dhingra prevails, Democrats will take control of the chamber, and in turn, dominate state government in Washington. It would also complete a trifecta of sorts: a Dhingra win would mean Dems control state political power across the Pacific coast in California, Oregon, and Washington.

* Mayoral races: Politico published a good rundown of some of the citywide elections today, including mayoral races in cities such as New York, Atlanta, and Minneapolis.

MSNBC will have all kinds of election-night coverage tonight.

New Jersey and Virginia

Races to watch on Election Day 2017