The full consequences of the Democratic Party’s victory last night in Virginia won’t become apparent for months or even years to come. By winning both houses of the state legislature, Democrats have turned the state totally blue for the first time in 26 years. They’ll have a chance to pass major new gun laws in the backyard of the Fairfax-based National Rifle Association, to more than double Virginia’s minimum wage, and to solidify their electoral gains by reversing Republican gerrymanders through redistricting two years from now.
But the more immediate significance of the results is what they portend for the Democrats’ much bigger battle ahead: They show that the electoral fire on the left sparked by Donald Trump’s stunning victory in 2016 is still burning hot three years later. In 2017, Virginia was a proving ground for Democrats as they tried to translate the energy of the so-called Resistance into electoral victory. They won three statewide elections that year and dramatically exceeded expectations in legislative races, foreshadowing the party’s national triumph in recapturing the House majority in 2018. They hope the same trend will hold true heading into 2020.
“This historic victory should send a chill down the spines of Donald Trump and every Republican,” proclaimed Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in a statement. “Democrats are competing in every election and every state, running on our values, and channelling unprecedented energy into the voting booth—that’s how we won tonight, that’s how we’ll beat Trump in one year, and that’s how Democrats will win victories at every level in 2020.”