In an exceptionally close race, former DNC Chairman and Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe beat Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to become the next governor of the state.

McAuliffe beat Cuccinelli by just 56,000 votes  or 48% to Cuccinelli’s 45.5%. “Libertarian” Rob Sarvis finished with a surprising 6.6% of the vote and may have cost Cuccinelli the election.

With such a slim margin of victory and winning a plurality, but not  a majority, McAuliffe’s win wasn’t the barometer for 2014 that liberal pundits thought it would be if McAuliffe won. Instead he faces a tough four years with a state legislature dominated by Republicans who will be in no mood to move his agenda forward.

Plus Democrats didn’t get the sweep of offices that they had counted on. Sure they won the Lieutenant Governor’s race- which was n’t really close, but closer than I thought it would be given the Republican candidate E.W. Jackson.  But they didn’t win the other key slot besides the governorship- Attorney General, which is where the next governor is likely to come from.  Would anyone seriously vote for Ralph Northam for governor in 2017?

While the Democrats didn’t get the mandate they were looking for the Republicans will need to think about what type of candidate they want to run in four years.

Cuccinelli was a Tea Party darling and campaigned to the right, which realistically only plays well in the more rural parts of Virginia, but not in the vote-rich liberal areas in Northern Virginia which was a key part of McAuliffe’s win. Other problems for Cuccinelli were his lack of charisma, his running mate who is passionate man, but prone to outrageous statements and a lack of money.  More importantly he was outspent by $15 million and yet nearly won the election, but he couldn’t afford to run ads in the last two weeks to counter McAuliffe and that definitely hurt him. And it’s very hard to win if you don’t have money.  McAuliffe was aided by the Clintons in his fundraising efforts which means they are counting on him to deliver Virginia for Hillary in 2016.

Another thing that didn’t help was the government shutdown.  With so many Virginia voters federal workers, it just served as a reminder of Cuccinelli’s conservative philosophy though he had no role in the shutdown.  If the shutdown had continued until the election, there is no doubt that McAuliffe’s margin of victory would have been far greater.  On the other hand, Cuccinelli did a great job of focusing his campaign on Obamacare and its ills, but it just was too little too late,

The giftgate or whatever you want to call the non-scandal scandal- you can thank the liberal media for this, did deal Cuccinelli a big blow as it removed perhaps his greatest weapon- the popular Republican Governor Bob McDonnell from the campaign.  Instead of having the incumbent governor on the campaign trail, providing endorsements and raising money, McDonnell was forced to sit on the sidelines and that hurt.

So now for the first time since 1977, the party occupying the White House has also won the governors race, but with such a thin margin of victory that measurement is completely meaningless.

Virginia Republicans now have four years to rethink their strategy and hopefully they can find a candidate for governor that can combine conservative principles with a dose of pragmatism so that they can retake the governors mansion in 2017.