One race--the Massachusetts Senate contest--is consuming the nation's interest in electoral politics right now, but a smaller one happened last night that's also worth some consideration: Democratic Delegate Dave Marsden upset Republican Steve Hunt in a special election for a northern Virginia state Senate seat, outspending Hunt two to one.


Republicans had swept Democrats in the races for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general in November, which caused some doubt about Democrats' future in the state, after successful election cycles in 2006 and 2008, which saw Democrats Jim Webb and Mark Warner elected to the U.S. Senate and Barack Obama capture the state in the presidential race.

To succeed in Virginia, Democrats have looked to build on their foothold in the suburbs in the northern part of the state; Marsden's victory in the Northern Virginia county of Fairfax seems to indicate that Democrats can still succeed in that area, despite their poor performance statewide in 2009.

The Democratic take on the victory, from a Democratic party source, is that it shows Democrats can win by running on jobs and the economy, and by tying GOP candidates to Sarah Palin, two things the party plans to do a lot of in 2010.

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