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Red alert: Crushing defeat in Virginia could signal more bad news for Democrats ahead

Neither contest was supposed to be close, not at first.

But in Virginia Tuesday night, the victory in the governor’s election was scored not by Democrat Terry McAuliffe – rated the favorite when the race began – but by Republican Glenn Youngkin .

And in New Jersey, an even stronger Democratic stronghold, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy faced an unexpectedly strong challenge from Republican Jack Ciattarelli.

In his first bid for public office, Youngkin managed to unnerve Democrats nationwide and give Republicans a template to succeed even in places Joe Biden carried by double digits in the presidential campaign one year ago.

The outcome fortified Republican hopes of winning back control of the House and the Senate in next year’s midterms. It complicated Biden’s embattled efforts to push his ambitious agenda through a Congress that is still under Democratic control, albeit narrowly.

And it revealed how much the political landscape has been transformed in the year since euphoric Democrats celebrated winning back the White House and holding the House, then seizing control of the Senate with breathtaking victories in two Georgia elections. The appetite for change that boosted Democrats last time undercut them now. Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin , left, and his wife Suzanne, second from left, greet supporters during a rally in Chesterfield, Va., Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. Youngkin will face Democrat former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the November election. The repercussions are sure to ripple well beyond the borders of the only two states that elect governors in the off-year.

For Republicans, the good news will bolster efforts to recruit strong candidates and raise money for next year’s midterms.

For Democrats, the bad news may prompt some incumbents in Congress, unhappy about a possible return to minority status, to consider retiring or running for some other office. It could alarm congressional Democrats from swing districts about attacks by opponents – and blowback from voters – if they vote for Biden’s stalled $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill.

It might even affect calculations on the 2024 presidential election.

"I would like to thank my BASE for coming out in force and voting for Glenn Youngkin," Trump said in a statement that took credit for the victory hours before the race had been called by news organizations. "Without you, he would not have been close to winning. The MAGA movement is bigger and stronger than ever before."

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