Democrats had a good night Tuesday in off-year elections that decided control of state legislatures, governorships, school boards and ballot initiatives on issues ranging from abortion rights to the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The string of wins provides some comfort to Democrats as polls have shown President Biden's support flagging against former President Donald Trump in next year's race for the White House.
Political strategists for both parties are sure to look for clues on how Tuesday's lower-profile contests signal broader voter trends. Abortion access was a running theme for many of the most closely watched races, for instance.
• Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear won a second term as Kentucky's governor, defeating Republican Daniel Cameron, the state attorney general and a protege of Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
• Voters in Ohio passed Issue 1, enshrining protections for reproductive rights into the state constitution in another major loss for anti-abortion advocates. Ohioans also voted to legalize recreational marijuana use.
• Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is leading in his bid to win reelection in Mississippi.
• Democrats retained control of the Virginia state Senate, blocking Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin's legislative agenda. In addition, they appear set to flip the GOP-controlled House of Delegates.
• Democrat Dan McCaffery won an open seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a race that had revolved around abortion rights and election integrity.
Republicans lose Virginia state House
Capping off a lousy night for Virginia Republicans, the GOP appears to have lost its majority in the state House. Democrats will also keep control of the state Senate.
The results are a blow to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who had hoped he had found an abortion proposal that could win over moderate voters: a 15-week ban, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
Democratic candidates, meanwhile, emphasized their support for abortion rights, and their victories tonight ensure that Republicans won’t be able to seriously restrict the procedure in the state.
Some Youngkin allies had hoped a strong Republican showing in Virginia tonight could propel the popular governor into the GOP presidential race as a last-minute alternative to Donald Trump. Instead, the Democratic victories effectively ensure that Youngkin will remain on the sidelines in 2024.
Democrat McCaffery wins open seat on Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Daniel McCaffery, Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge, steps from the voting booth after casting a ballot in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Democrat Dan McCaffery defeated Republican Carolyn Carluccio for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. McCaffery was outspoken in his support for abortion rights in a race that also focused on election integrity in the critical swing state. Both sides combined to spend more than $15 million on the contest. McCaffery's win gives the Democrats a 5-2 edge on the court, although three of that quintet are up for reelection in 2025.
Democratic mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker takes the stage during an election night party in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Parker was elected as Philadelphia's 100th mayor, becoming the first woman to hold the office. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Virginia Dems keep state Senate, scuttle anti-abortion push
Glenn Youngkin, governor of Virginia, speaks during a 'Get Out The Vote' rally in Richmond, Virginia, US, on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Virginia Democrats are projected to retain control of the state Senate, dashing Republican hopes of taking control of the chamber. The result is a blow to Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican who campaigned heavily for GOP candidates across the state.
The Democrats’ victory also means abortion will remain legal in the commonwealth. Youngkin has backed a 15-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother — a proposal that Republicans tried selling as a common-sense compromise on the issue. But without full control of the state legislature, GOP lawmakers won’t be able to pass such a ban.
Youngkin had also been touted as a potential last-minute contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Tonight's results, however, are likely to help keep him on the sidelines next year.
Uvalde mother whose daughter was killed in school shooting loses bid for mayor
Uvalde mayoral candidate Kimberly Mata-Rubio, left, and campaign manager Dr. Laura Barberena canvass a neighborhood on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, in Uvalde, Texas. (Darren Abate/AP)
Kimberly Mata-Rubio, a mother whose daughter was killed last year in the Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, conceded defeat to Cody Smith Tuesday night.
Mata-Rubio's campaign demanded more accountability for the slow police response to the shooting and advocated for stronger gun laws.
Smith's campaign focused on honoring the lives of the 19 students and two teachers who were killed in the shooting, and focused on moving Uvalde forward.
Danica Roem makes history as Virginia's first openly transgender state senator
Danica Roem (L) and Nelson Araujo speak at the 22nd annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner on September 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
Democrat Danica Roem has defeated Republican Bill Woolf in Virginia's Senate District 30 race. Roem makes history as Virginia's first openly transgender state senator.
Roem posted a statement on X claiming victory saying, "To the people of western Prince William County, the City of Manassas Park and the City of Manassas: I’m so grateful to continue serving my lifelong home community, now in the state Senate. Thank you so, so much. It’s time to get back to work!"
Yusef Salaam, exonerated 'Central Park Five' member, wins New York City Council seat
New York City Council candidate Yusef Salaam speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, May 24, 2023, in New York. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
Exonerated “Central Park Five” member Yusef Salaam, a Democrat, won a seat Tuesday on the New York City Council, having run unopposed after he won the primary election in a landslide.
The victory for the political newcomer comes more than two decades after DNA evidence was used to overturn the convictions of Salaam and four other Black and Latino men in the infamous 1989 rape case. Salaam was wrongly imprisoned for almost seven years.
Networks project Ohio voters opt for legalized marijuana
Nikko Griffin, left, and Tyra Patterson, call out to arriving voters in the parking lot of the Hamilton County Board of Elections during early in-person voting in Cincinnati, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Eight years after decisively voting down a ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana, residents of the Buckeye State approved a measure allowing for weed use by those 21 and older, according to projections by CNN, ABC and NBC. Ohio follows 23 states as well as the District of Columbia in allowing recreational marijuana for adults.
Ohio voters enshrine abortion rights in state constitution
Supporters of Ohio Issue 1 cheer as results come in at a watch party hosted by Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights on November 7, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Andrew Spear/Getty Images)
In a win for pro-abortion-rights advocates, Ohioans voted to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution on Tuesday.
Voters in the Buckeye State approved a ballot measure known as Issue 1, which asked voters whether the state’s constitution should be amended to establish “an individual right to one’s own reproductive medical treatment, included but not limited to abortion.”
The amendment, which goes into effect 30 days from now, protects abortion access up to the point of fetal viability. Abortions would only be allowed after that point to protect the life of the mother.
Ohio, a Republican-leaning state which Donald Trump won in 2020, joins several other red states where voters have consistently turned up at the polls to support expanding abortion access after Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that recognized a constitutional right to an abortion, was overturned in June 2022.
Beshear defeats Cameron to earn second term as Kentucky governor
Kentucky Governor and Democratic candidate for re-election Andy Beshear speaks at the Democratic Party of Daviess County Headquarters during a bus tour across Kentucky, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Owensboro, Ky. (Greg Eans/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, turned back a challenge by Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron in Tuesday’s election, winning a second term in office in a state dominated by Republican politicians.
With 80% of the votes tabulated, the Associated Press called the race for Beshear.
Beshear ran on his stewardship of the state through natural disasters and his backing for abortion rights.
Cameron sought to link Beshear with President Joe Biden, who polls have shown is deeply unpopular with voters in the state.
Former President Donald Trump had urged his supporters to vote for Cameron.
"Kentucky! Get out and VOTE for Daniel Cameron for Governor. It is a Vote you will be very proud of. He will never let you down!!!" Trump wrote in a message Tuesday on his social media platform, Truth Social.
Cover image: Andrew Spear/Getty Images