Speed Reads

2017 Elections

Democrats shocked themselves — and the GOP — with sweeping Virginia House victories

Democrats exceeded even their own expectations in Virginia in Tuesday's elections, sweeping the top three executive races, all fiercely contested — Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam was elected governor, Justin Fairfax became the state's second black lieutenant governor, and Mark Herring was elected attorney general — but also picking up at least 14 seats in the House of Delegates, potentially wresting control from Republicans. Republicans have controlled the House since 2000, and they went into the night with 66 of the 100 seats. Four seats are close enough they might qualify for a recount, and a 50-50 tie is a significant possibility. Republicans hold a 21-19 majority in the state Senate.

Of the 14 House seats the Democrats have flipped so far, 10 of them were won by women, including one transgender candidate and the state's first two Latina lawmakers in the General Assembly. Democrats were as surprised as Republicans. "This is an unbelievable night," House Minority Leader David J. Toscano (D) told The Washington Post. "There were districts we didn't think we had much of a shot in." Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) called the election a referendum on President Trump, telling The New York Times, "I know folks that lost tonight who were going against candidates I'd never even heard of."

Democrats had help from a new super PAC, Forward Majority, that hopes to help Democrats reclaim some of the 1,000 state legislative seats they lost to Republicans over the past 10 years. "The innovative digital strategies and money invested by Forward Majority are rarely used in hyper local races like the 16 state legislature seats they assisted Democrats in during this year's election," Axios says, "and in today's election results, it suggests the strategies are working."