RICHMOND, Va. -- It was a big night for the GOP as the Republican candidates swept the state's three highest offices - possibly signaling trouble ahead for the Democratic Party.
Exit polls show independent voters went heavily for Bob McDonnell, handing him a big victory with about 59 percent of the vote.
"Eight months ago, I applied for the job of governor of Virginia. Tonight you have hired me. Thank you!," McDonnell told a crowd of his supporters at his watch party Tuesday night.
McDonnell is a man known for his faith and family values. But it was the bread and butter issues such as jobs and building the economy that put him first in a landslide victory against his Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds.
Not only did McDonnell win a big victory by winning the governor's race, but his coattails gave the GOP a triple sweep, by winning the state's three highest offices.
Referendum on White House?
Independent voters, who have deserted the Virginia GOP in recent years, broke two-for-one for McDonnell. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour offered one reason why.
"Look, Americans don't want the federal government to take over the economy," Barbour said. "They may not be able to say exactly why, but they know all this spending, all this debt's bad for the country. Americans know you can't spend yourself rich and the government can't spend itself rich either.
The Virginia results are a clear reversal of fortune for the White House.
"Last year in Virginia, you saw Barack Obama be the first Democrat since 1964 to win Virginia, and that was a referendum on the previous administration and the poor economy," said former Sen. George Allen, R-Va.
"It's amazing how the political winds have shifted really in just the last five months, and I think a lot of it is because of what's going on in Washington," he said.
GOP Chairman: More Work Ahead
National GOP Chairman Michael Steele says that although his party made gains Tuesday, there is still much work to do.
"Those tea parties and those town hall meetings meant something, and right now the voters are beginning to speak in a way that says you better listen to us because we have real concerns we need to address," Steele said.
McDonnell is a graduate of Regent University, which is a blessing to the university's founder, Pat Robertson.
"Our motto is Christian leadership to change the world and this is the way to do it when you begin to get the leaders of states," Robertson said. "I'm so proud of Bob McDonnell, I don't know what to do."
"We're proud of him and we're really hopeful that he'll be a new wave, not just for Regent University, but for the country as well," Regent University President-Elect Carlos Campo said.
As he readies himself for the governor's mansion, McDonnell hearkened back to the Old Dominion's most famous former governor.
"I pledge to you that we will honor the words of Thomas Jefferson to keep a wise and frugal government, and we will do everything possible to keep taxes and regulations and litigation and spending to a minimum here in Virginia, so that freedom can grow," McDonnell said.