Virginia gubernatorial election, 2005

The Virginia gubernatorial election of 2005 was a race for the Governor of Virginia, United States, held on November 8, 2005, and won by Democrat Tim Kaine. Virginia is the only state in the United States to prohibit governors from serving successive terms, so the popular incumbent, Mark R. Warner, could not run for reelection.

The primary election was held on June 14, 2005. Tim Kaine was unopposed for the Democratic nomination, and Jerry Kilgore easily defeated George Fitch with 82.5% of the vote for the Republican nomination.

The general election itself was expected to be close with Independent candidate Russ Potts as a possible spoiler candidate. Kaine remained behind in polls throughout most of the campaign, at one point 10 points behind Kilgore, but captured a slight lead in the final weeks of the campaign, due in part to a series of gaffes by the Kilgore campaign.

Some of these gaffes included:

  • A television commercial launched by Kilgore accusing Kaine of being so against capital punishment that he wouldn't have executed Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein.
  • A gaffe by Kilgore during a debate in which he refused to give a straight answer on whether he would sign a law banning abortion if Roe v. Wade was over-turned.
  • Trying to back out of an October 9, 2005 debate that he previously agreed to with Kaine.

The final results of the election were 51.72% for Kaine, 45.99% for Kilgore, 2.22% for Potts, and 0.08% for other candidates.

The election was the most expensive in Virginia history, with the candidates combined raising over $42 million




Independents/minor parties

Former candidates (unsuccessful primary candidates)


Opinion polls

Source Date Kaine (D) Kilgore (R) Potts (I)
Survey USA November 7, 2005 50% 45% 4%
Mason-Dixon November 4, 2005 45% 44% 4%
Rasmussen November 4, 2005 49% 46% 2%
Roanoke College November 2, 2005 44% 36% 5%
Washington Post October 30, 2005 47% 44% 4%
Rasmussen October 28, 2005 46% 44% 4%
Mason-Dixon October 25, 2005 42% 44% 5%
Rasmussen October 24, 2005 46% 48% 2%
Hotline October 18, 2005 40% 38% 5%
Survey USA October 17, 2005 47% 45% 4%
Rasmussen October 12, 2005 44% 46% 1%
Rasmussen September 28, 2005 45% 45% 5%
Survey USA September 19, 2005 43% 46% 4%
Mason-Dixon September 18, 2005 40% 41% 6%
Rasmussen September 16, 2005 40% 43% 5%
Survey USA August 9, 2005 43% 48% 3%
Rasmussen August 4, 2005 39% 45% 5%
Mason-Dixon July 24, 2005 38% 37% 9%
Rasmussen July 14, 2005 41% 47% 4%
Survey USA June 30, 2005 39% 49% 5%
Rasmussen June 16, 2005 40% 46% 2%
Survey USA May 17, 2005 40% 44% 5%


Official results from the State Board of Elections: An underdog for most of the race, Kaine led in some polls for the first time in October 2005, and held his lead into the final week before the election. While the previous Democratic Governor, Mark Warner, was credited with doing especially well for a Democrat in rural areas of the commonwealth, Kaine's win featured surprising triumphs in traditionally Republican areas such as Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and the Northern Virginia exurbs of Prince William County and Loudoun County, as well as impressive showings in Democratic strongholds such as Richmond and Norfolk.

Kaine closely associated himself with popular outgoing Democratic Governor Mark Warner during his campaign; he won his race by a slightly larger margin than Warner. He promised homeowner tax relief, centrist fiscal leadership, and universal pre-kindergarten. . A number of factors, from the sagging poll numbers of President George W. Bush to a public disgust over the death penalty ads run by Kilgore, have also been cited as key to his decisive win. Kaine was inaugurated in Williamsburg on January 14, 2006. This makes Kaine the first Governor since Thomas Jefferson (in 1779) to be inaugurated in Virginia's colonial capital. Virginia's Capitol in Richmond was under renovation at the time, with the process completed in mid-2007.

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