This year, Virginia Republicans were divided and had an easily caricatured candidate at the top of the ticket who ran a defensive campaign and was massively outspent ... and the state still broke basically 50-50. Next year, incumbent Democratic senator Mark Warner will be on the ballot.
Warner’s main Senate accomplishment was casting the deciding vote for Obamacare. Obamacare stood at 46-53 approval in Tuesday’s Virginia exit polls, polls that overstated McAuliffe's margin by five points, so Obamacare probably was really about 44-56 in Virginia on Election Day. Obamacare's numbers could well get worse over the next year.
An impressive Republican candidate who could unite the party, resist caricature, raise money and run a decent Obamacare-focused campaign—especially one who wasn't a career politician—would have a real chance to beat Warner a year from now. Will someone step forward for the good of the state and the nation?