In at least six of the state House races, Republicans defeated Democratic incumbents. This gave the GOP a narrow advantage of 51 seats to 49. After the final vote in the outstanding Virginia Beach district, that majority could increase to 52 seats. According to the state Board of Elections, the Democratic incumbent was trailing by 147 votes as of Saturday morning. The state Senate is still controlled by Democrats.
The Democrats ran the Legislature on a united message emphasizing their progressive policies and warning that Republicans would take control. The unified power of the Legislature has allowed Democrats to pass measures regarding voting rights, gun control, legalization, and police reform over the past two years.
Eileen Filler Corn, House of Delegates Speaker, stated in a statement that "We spent this election circle talking about the issues and highlighting how much progress we have made while we were in the majority." "Unfortunately, the headwinds proved too strong and the maps drawn previously by the majority were a difficult challenge to overcome.
State House Democrats raised more than $50.8million this election cycle than Republicans, which was far higher than the $23.3 million that Republicans earned.
Republicans wanted to paint Democrats as out-of touch radicals, and used the election to cast it as a referendum against the left's agenda. This strategy worked. The House Democrats lost ground both in rural and suburban areas, which mirrors McAuliffe's loss.
The American Conservative Union quickly compiled a list with priorities for the Legislature. It started with "overturning all the disastrous policies that were passed earlier in the year." The Republican group listed a comprehensive voting rights package, which repealed the ban on abortion coverage on state-run health insurance exchanges, and a measure to create a low emission program for vehicles. It also included gun control laws, legislation recognizing racism as an emergency, and an overtime wage act.
Just after midnight on Wednesday, the Republicans won victory. Major networks and The Associated Press declared that the results were final.
The historic upset tonight is evidence that Virginians are open to moving closer to an optimistic vision of the commonwealth. It is marked by the protection and expansion of individual freedoms, the empowerment of parents, the ability for businesses to do the best for their employees and themselves, Dee Duncan, Republican State Leadership Committee President, stated in a statement.
Duncan said that while we are proud to have done so in Virginia, national Democrats will be motivated to attack the razor-thin majority in 2022. We know we will need to do more to defend them.