Republican Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race early on Wednesday in a closely watched contest that may well portend further gains for his party during crucial midterm elections next year.
Mr Youngkin's victory over Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, who had previously served as governor from 2014 to 2018, was viewed as a major upset in a state that supported Joe Biden in last year's presidential election by a 10-point edge.
The race centred not only on America's culture wars that have seen angry debates play out over what should be taught in schools, but also on the future of abortion rights and Mr McAuliffe's friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton, who are loathed in Republican circles. The inability of Mr Biden and his administration to pass key legislation was also seen as causing Democratic voters to stay home.
“This is the spirit of Virginia coming together like never before,” Mr Youngkin told cheering supporters after the race was called.
"Together we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth, and friends, we are going to start that transformation on day one. There's no time to waste. Our kids can't wait. We work in real people time, not government time."
A Democratic loss in Virginia represents a massive setback for national Democrats. Mr McAuliffe had once been considered a shoo-in for the position but in recent weeks the gap evaporated between him and Mr Youngkin.
Less than a year into office, the president's political fortunes are floundering.
The White House has been shaken in recent months by the chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, a sometimes sluggish economic recovery amid the pandemic and a legislative agenda at risk of collapse on Capitol Hill.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the senior Republican in the House of Representatives, congratulated Mr Youngkin on the results as they were still coming in, saying they heralded the end of the Democrats' control of the chamber.
Another governor's race drawing attention in Tuesday's local and state elections was in New Jersey, where Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy and former state legislator Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican, are in a dead heat.
As of Wednesday morning, The Associated Press had Mr Ciattarelli ahead by close to 1,200 votes, while CNN had Mr Murphy leading by about 1,600.
In New York City, Eric Adams, a Democrat, was easily elected to become the city's next mayor.
Mr Adams, a retired police captain, was overcome by emotion as he cast his vote at an elementary school on Tuesday morning. He cried as he recalled accompanying his mother, who died this year, to a polling site in 1977.
In Dearborn, Michigan, Abdullah Hammoud declared victory in the city's mayoral race, becoming the first Arab American to hold that position.
“The people of Dearborn spoke loudly. They want change and bold leadership to tackle the challenges we face,” Mr Hammoud said after his win.
“Our campaign united the city behind thoughtful solutions that will deliver the city government Dearborn deserves. We live in the greatest city in America and I’m excited about what we can achieve together when we rally around a common vision.”
Dearborn is the city with the highest concentration of Arabs and people of Arab descent in the US.
Agencies contributed to this report