Democrats' win in Virginia gives a boost to the Clinton campaign model of attracting moderates and business-oriented voters while driving turnout among women. McAuliffe's narrow victory rested on a 9-point edge among women and could offer Democratic candidates in 2014 a case study for winning in swing-voting territory — especially if Obama's support is weakened.
Christie and McAuliffe both outspent their opponents by large margins and aired tough TV ads months before the election to negatively define their opponents, stealing a page from Obama's playbook against Republican Mitt Romney. No matter the election, the tactics matter.
"We shouldn't lose focus on the fundamentals," said Republican strategist Martin Baker, a former adviser to Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign. He said the races are "textbook examples that money and mechanics remain critical to a successful campaign."