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(CNN) - Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe always knew the race would be close.
"I always said it would be a couple points from the day I got in," McAuliffe told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.
For months McAuliffe held a small, consistent lead in public opinion polls over Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who was considered a hero by many tea party supporters and other grass-roots activists, thanks to his very public conservative crusades, including his push against Obamacare.
"It's been a 35-plus year curse, so whoever wins the White House, the other party wins the (Virginia) governor's mansion, so we knew it was going to be tough," said McAuliffe.
"It's a great win, we're happy, now we've got a lot of work to do," he said.