Virginia Senate hinges on election results

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A few votes today could shift the balance of power in Capitol Square.  Republicans hope to pick up three state senate seats and take control.

Dan Palazzolo is a political science professor at the University of Richmond.  He says it's tough to say what will happen tonight. This is the first election since the redistricting.

"We're coming up on an election right after the new lines have been drawn, and that means even incumbents are representing different voters than they have in the past," said Palazzolo.

But that's not to say we'll see a lot of turnover at the Capitol.

"This is almost, in a sense, a yawner, and that's because the lines have been drawn in such a way to protect most incumbents," said Palazzolo.

Turnout is typically low in off-year elections, and today was no different.  Still, many people are gazing past today's election and have set their eyes on the national race in 2012.

"We set up this structure in state politics to sort of isolate ourselves from national politics, but increasingly national politics come into play," said Palazzolo.

He says many republicans are vying for the chance to run against President Barack Obama, but it's hard to view today's election as a referendum on Washington.

"If there's a sweeping victory by one side or the other, then you can read something into it, but if it's just blocking and tackling one or two seats the other way than I'd really be hesitant to read too much into it," said Palazzolo.

Governor Bob McDonnell isn't on the ballot tonight but he could be considered the big winner if the republicans take control of the state senate. Political experts say that could boost his chances at becoming the future vice presidential running mate next year.

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