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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Democrats picked up 12 House of Delegates races in Virginia tonight, thanks in part to Forward Majority — a super PAC that launched in September to help Democrats regain some of the nearly 1,000 state legislature seats they've lost to Republicans in the past decade. The group spent $1 million on the ad campaigns throughout Virginia.

Why it matters: The innovative digital strategies and money invested by Forward Majority are rarely used in hyper local races like the 16 state legislature seats they assisted Democrats in during this year's election — and in today's election results, it suggests the strategies are working.

David Cohen, Forward Majority co-founder and former Obama campaign senior staffer, said the races Forward Majority helped Democrats win in Virginia were "thought to be unwinnable" because of the Republican stronghold.Forward Majority ran ad campaigns in 16 races throughout Virginia. Democrats won 12 of those races.

  • District 50, where the local Democratic Party cut off Lee Carter (the Dem candidate) from financial resources after he didn't comply with their canvassing demands. Carter won with 55% of the vote.
  • District 73, where the Republican incumbent John O'Bannon hasn't had a challenged in eight years. Dem. Debra Rodman won with 51% of the vote.
  • District 21, where Democrat Kelly Convirs-Fowler won with 53% of the vote over Republican Ronald Villanueva, who has held the seat since 2009.
  • District 10, where Democrat Wendy Gooditis won with 53% of the vote over Republican incumbent Randall Minchew.
  • District 85, where Democrat Cheryl Turpin narrowly beat Republican N.D. Holcomb with 51% of the vote.
  • District 68, where Democrat Dawn Adams beat Republican Manoli Loupassi.
  • District 72, where Democrat Schuyler VanValkenburg beat Republican Edward Whitlock with 53% of the vote.
  • District 67, where Democrat Karrie Delaney beat Republican James LeMunyon with 58% of the vote.
  • District 32, Democrat David Reid beat Republican Thomas Greason with 59% of the vote.
  • District 31, Democrat Elizabeth Guzman beat Republican Scott Lingamfelter with 54% of the vote.
  • District 2, where Democrat Jennifer Foy beat Republican Mike Makee with 63% of the vote.
  • District 40, Democrat Dante Tanner narrowly beat Republican Timothy Hugo with 50.1% of the vote.

Go deeper

Americans are super-sizing their holiday travel

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are rushing back into holiday travel, and many are taking even longer trips now than they did before the pandemic began.

The big picture: After skipping Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings last year, many people are eager to maximize this year's celebrations with friends and family. And flexible remote working arrangements make that easier than ever.

Updated 17 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."