A two-seat conservative pick-up in the Alexandria City Council last night may be the best model for a Republican comeback. Frank Fannon IV, a Republican, and Alicia R. Hughes, a GOP-backed independent, are first non-Democrats on the council since 2003. The city went 72 percent for Obama last year.

Many credit Howard Dean's 50-state strategy as a factor in Obama's success in turning long-time red states. The program trained party staff members in even the reddest states.

But Dean's effort was just the latest in a long string of efforts to turn to the most local races. Newt Gingrich used GOPAC to train Republican candidates during the Republican ascendency in the '90s, for example. And even in less-organized instances—as the wins in Alexandria appear to be—local races can help tip the orientation of a state. City Council and other 'hyperlocal' races can provide not only stronger candidates for future races, the put in place a network of campaigners for future politicians.