The AP: "In Associated Press surveys at polling places statewide, about eight in 10 voters said they were worried about the direction of the nation's economy, and the majority of those favored McDonnell. He built his political career as a social conservative and abortion opponent but focused his campaign on employment and closing the budget gap without raising taxes."
The Richmond Times-Dispatch writes that McDonnell "created a model for other Republican candidates," by "emphasiz[ing] jobs creation and de-emphasiz[ing] social issues," despite McDonnell's graduate thesis, revealed in August, which "appeared to demean women."
The Washington Post also spotlights McDonnell's avoidance of social issues, writing that he "crafted his campaign around particular concerns... He reached out to minority communities and drilled so deeply into local concerns that he was discussing Lyme disease in one neighborhood and Guantanamo Bay prisoners in another." McDonnell's resulting win everywhere but the "liberal heartlands" shows that "Democrats cannot take Northern Virginia for granted despite an influx of young, minority voters who tend to vote Democratic."