Bob McDonnell Wins Virginia Governor's Race

(AP)
Updated 9:55 p.m. ET

CBS News has projected that Republican Bob McDonnell has won the race for governor in Virginia over Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds.

McDonnell's win ends eight years of Democratic reign and comes just one year after President Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Virginia since 1964.

According to exit polls, the Republican's decisive 62 percent majority of the independent vote was a key to his victory.

"McDonnell's victory in this off-year election has as much to do with who didn't vote as who did," CBS Poll Analysis Fred Backus said. "African Americans broke overwhelmingly for Deeds, but though they make up 20 percent of Virginians and voted proportional to their population in 2008, they made up just 15 percent of the voting population today in Virginia. Voters under 30 made up only 10 percent of the voters in Virginia – half the percentage that turned out in 2008 – and nearly half of those who did show up to the polls voted for McDonnell." (Read more on why McDonnell won in Virginia>)

While Mr. Obama's aides have trying to say McDonnell's win is not a rejection of the administration, Republicans have been quick to push the opposite story.

"The Republican Party's overwhelming victory in Virginia is a blow to President Obama and the Democrat Party," Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. "It sends a clear signal that voters have had enough of the president's liberal agenda."

But as CBS News political director Steve Chaggaris points out, exit polling showed that 57 percent of voters said that the president wasn't a factor in their vote for governor.

Chaggaris also notes that Republican excitement will be tempered by the reality of the continued debate within the Republican Party about whether to emphasize its right-wing base or to soften up in an attempt to appeal to more moderates.

"McDonnell's success was partly based on downplaying his social conservative views and making a somewhat moderate play for independent votes," he writes. (Read more analysis from Chaggaris>)

Read more Election Day Coverage:

McDonnell Wins in Va.; Close Race in N.J.
What McDonnell's Win Means for the GOP, Obama
McDonnell Won Due to Turnout, Independents
Exit Polls in Va. and N.J.: The Obama (Non) Factor?
Washington Unplugged: A Referendum on Obama?
Schieffer: Hard Right Driving the GOP Train

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