Joe Biden suffered a bitter political blow early on Wednesday when Democrats went down in a shock defeat in the election for governor of Virginia.
The Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, had campaigned with Biden and Barack Obama but it was not enough to prevent the Republican Glenn Youngkin pulling off an upset.
The AP called the race for Youngkin in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The Republican took an early lead after polls closed that he maintained throughout the evening, while McAuliffe lagged in key counties that Biden swept in 2020.
The battle in Virginia has been seen as a litmus test of Biden’s presidency one year after he won the White House, and it coincided with his agenda stalling in Congress and his approval rating sinking to 42%.
History was on Youngkin’s side in that the party that loses the White House tends to be energised and usually wins the Virginia’s governor’s race a year later.
However, no Republican had won statewide office since 2009, and Biden beat Trump in Virginia by 10 percentage points, meaning that a Democratic loss here would reverberate across the nation.