Mr. Obama was the first Democrat to win Virginia since 1964; he beat John McCain by seven percentage points; and he did so on the strength of his appeal to Northern Virginia's many white-collar independents. Along with victories in North Carolina, Colorado and Nevada, the Obama Old Dominion win in 2008 inspired a flurry of stories about how Democrats had forever altered the political map.
Every Republican incumbent—52 in the House, 15 in the Senate—won. The state GOP is looking at unified control over government for only the second time since the Civil War.
Elected state Democrats—who form the backbone of grass-roots movements—couldn't distance themselves far enough from Mr. Obama in this race. Most refused to mention the president, to defend his policies, or to appear with him. The more Republicans sought to nationalize the Virginia campaign, the more Democrats stressed local issues.
Virginia Democrats were happy to identify with one top official: Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is providing a lesson in the benefits of smart GOP governance in battleground states. Criticized as being too socially conservative for Virginia when he was elected in 2009, Mr. McDonnell has won over voters by focusing on the economy and jobs. His approval ratings are in the 60s, and he helped raise some $5 million for local candidates. He's popular enough that Democrats took to including pictures of him in their campaign literature, and bragging that they'd worked with him.
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