Democrat Abigail Spanberger is apparent winner over Rep. Dave Brat in GOP-held Virginia district

  • Democrat Abigail Spanberger is the apparent winner of a hotly contested House race in Virginia's 7th District, according to NBC News.
  • Spanberger appears to have defeated two-term Republican Rep. Dave Brat in a nail-biter of a race that was widely seen as a bellwether of how far Democrats could extend their electoral victories in a year that favored them.
  • Spanberger was likely able to overcome the solidly Republican makeup of the district in part because of both her significant fundraising advantage and unusually high voter enthusiasm among Democrats.
Abigail Spanberger, Democratic U.S. Representative candidate from Virginia, speaks during a campaign rally in Henrico, Virginia, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. 
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Abigail Spanberger, Democratic U.S. Representative candidate from Virginia, speaks during a campaign rally in Henrico, Virginia, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. 

Democrat Abigail Spanberger is the apparent winner of a hotly contested House race in Virginia's 7th District, according to NBC News.

Spanberger appears to have defeated two-term Republican Rep. Dave Brat in a nail-biter of a race that was widely seen as a bellwether of how far Democrats could extend their electoral victories in a year that favored them.

Spanberger was likely able to overcome the solidly Republican makeup of the district in part because of both her significant fundraising advantage and unusually high voter enthusiasm among Democrats.

Polling results varied widely throughout the race, but by Election Day, political analysts on both sides of the aisle considered Brat and Spanberger to be locked in a dead heat, with the outcome impossible to predict.

Spanberger also likely benefited from the support of Republicans who had become disenchanted with Brat, and who felt the former economics professor was not sufficiently accessible to his constituents.

A career CIA officer who was born and raised in the 7th District, Spanberger's campaign was hyperlocal, and included hundreds of in-person events where she met with and listened to voters.

Despite her strong candidacy, Brat's loss marks a startling shift in a district that Brat won by 15 points just two years ago.

That same year, President Donald Trump carried the district by 7 points. This time around, however, some voters told CNBC that they had soured on the president, and that they viewed a vote for Spanberger as a way to check Trump's agenda.