(CNN) - Things are getting interesting in Virginia - Tuesday's state government elections secured a Republican majority in the state House of Delegates but the prized Virginia senate is proving more elusive for the GOP.
In the commonwealth of Virginia, which broke for President Barack Obama in 2008 but elected Republican Bob McDonnell governor in 2009, a Republican-led assembly would be a boon for the GOP.
But statewide elections delivered a split state senate, with 20 seats won by Democrats and 19 by Republicans. Eleven Republicans ran unopposed and won while only three Democrats did the same.
In what appears to be the deciding race, Republican Bryce Reeves edged out Democrat R. Edward "Edd" Houck by 86 votes - a contest that will most likely face a recount. A win by Reeves will tie the chamber up, but a win by Houck in the potential recount will keep it out of GOP hands. Houck has not conceded the race.
Calling the outcome a "tremendous victory" during a conference call Wednesday, McDonnell said, "We are thrilled with the results of last night's election."
The president of the state senate - a role served by the lieutenant governor - is responsible for casting the deciding vote in the event of a tie, the only time a lieutenant governor votes. Republican Bill Bolling was re-elected lieutenant governor in 2009.
McDonnell praised Bolling's ability to "determine matters" if needed, though a recount in the critical race is possible and cannot begin until election results are certified later this month.
"Presidential elections aren't won or lost on the outcome of a single state senate seat, but it certainly helps if your party controls the entire political infrastructure of a state, even if it's by a narrow margin," said Robert Yoon, CNN Political Research Director. "Win or lose, both sides in Virginia got a lot of good practice last night for the ground war that's to come in 2012."
Virginia is considered a critical battleground state in 2012. President Obama's win in 2008 was the first time a Democratic presidential candidate won there since 1964 and recent polling in the state indicates the 2012 race is up for grabs.
The president made two stops in Virginia during his recent bus tour touting the American Jobs Act, Obama's effort to build infrastructure and promote job growth. Obama even appeared in the district of Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as he encouraged residents to personally reach out to congressional members in support of the bill.
And Virginia isn't only a presidential battleground - in a matchup of former Old Dominion State chief executives, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen are running for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by first-term Sen. Jim Webb, who announced his retirement in February.
– CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.