In the end, it wasn’t even a contest. Bob McDonnell didn’t simply beat Creigh Deeds in Tuesday’s Virginia governor’s race; he annihilated him.
Based on the returns as of Wednesday morning, McDonnell beat Deeds by 17.4 points, matching the numbers that were seen in the late polls that showed him surging to a huge lead on the eve of Election Day. McDonnell’s margin of victory tied the record that George Allen set back in 1993 as the largest margin of victory in a gubernatorial election in modern Virginia history.
McDonnell also proved to have strong coattails. Both of his ticketmates, Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli, posted similarly large victories over their Democratic opponents in the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general. Virginia Republicans also ended their recent string of defeats in the state legislature by adding as many as seven seats to what had been an extremely thin two-seat majority in the House of Delegates. When McDonnell takes office in January, he will do so with a strong Republican majority in the House of Delegates and a razor-thin Democratic majority in the state Senate.
The full extent of McDonnell’s victory can be best understood by looking at Northern Virginia, the source of many of the Democratic victories that the state has seen over the past four years. In Prince William County, for example, where Obama won last year by six points, McDonnell beat Deeds by seven. In Loudoun County, where Obama won by eight points last year, McDonnell beat Deeds this year by an astounding twenty-two points. And, perhaps most significantly, in Fairfax County, the largest county in the area, which had gone for Obama by 21 points last year, McDonnell beat Deeds by 4,000 votess. To understand the significance of that final result, note that Fairfax had not gone for a Republican candidate for governor since 1997 and that four years ago the county had gone for Democrat Tim Kaine by 23 points. Some thought Fairfax County, and perhaps all of Northern Virginia, was lost to Republicans forever. Last night, Bob McDonnell proved them wrong.