The Washington Times - November 6, 2013, 05:22AM

Republicans and Democrats may have split the two big prizes on the political map in Tuesday’s elections, but in terms of overall votes in New Jersey and Virginia, the GOP came out on top.

Powered by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s huge victory in New Jersey, the two Republican gubernatorial candidates won a combined 2.2 million votes, or about 400,000 more than the two Democratic gubernatorial candidates, who totaled 1.8 million.

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Digging deeper into the election numbers, a Washington Times analysis of returns as they stood late Tuesday night showed that when it came to legislative races, the GOP also held a clear advantage.

In the Virginia House of Delegates, with all 100 seats up for re-election, the GOP won a total of nearly 1.1 million votes, compared to slightly more than 810,000 votes for Democrats.

In New Jersey, both the House and Senate were up for election, but the House districts are complex, with the top two vote-getters in each district winning. That makes the state Senate a clearer test, and in those 40 districts, the GOP won more than 950,000 votes, or 100,000 more than Democrats’ total.

Still, Democrats came away with a clear majority in the New Jersey Senate, holding at least 22 seats and possibly as many as 24.

Tallying total votes is inexact, and doesn’t necessarily translate to victories in the future. Sometimes it shows the effects of gerrymandering, or underscores a party’s ability to field candidates even in futile races.

But the parties say it can also be a kind of referendum.

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After the 2012 congressional elections, Democrats pointed to the vote tally in the U.S. House, where they won more total votes than the GOP, despite not winning the majority, as evidence that the public backed Democratic priorities more than Republican priorities. Now, with Republicans having won a clear majority of votes in purple-state Virginia and deep blue New Jersey, look for the GOP to make a similar argument this week.