States and cities across America held elections on Tuesday in the last major election day until the presidential primaries begin in January.
For all the sound and fury around yesterday’s elections, there was one clear signal: Abortion rights are politically popular, no matter where or when they are on the ballot.
And that — no matter how you slice it — is good news for Democrats as the parties plot their strategies ahead of the 2024 elections.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin – the Virginia Republican who believed he could crack one of the most intractable issues in American politics with the promise of “reasonable” abortion restrictions – will not lead a GOP-controlled legislature in the Commonwealth, which denied the party control of the state Senate and put a swift end to both his plan for a 15-week abortion ban and rumors he might pursue a 2024 presidential bid.
Meanwhile, voters in Ohio decisively said they wanted a constitutionally protected right to abortion with the passage of a ballot measure – only a few months after they rejected another measure that would have made it harder for them to shield abortion rights.
And in Kentucky, the Democratic governor defeated his Republican challenger, a state attorney general with close ties to former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, after a campaign in which abortion became a flashpoint.
Here are the key election night takeaways on a strong night for Democrats:
As Ohio goes, so goes the nation? Tuesday night’s election results probably won’t change the equation for Biden in 2024, given Ohio’s recent presidential electoral history. But how about Sen. Sherrod Brown? The Ohio Democrat faces a difficult reelection run next year, but outcomes from the Buckeye State may give him a boost.
Already a proven political winner for Democrats, abortion rights further solidified their place as a driving force in next year’s elections when voters in Ohio, an increasingly conservative state that voted twice for Trump, passed a ballot measure on Tuesday enshrining them in the state constitution. Red, blue and purple states alike have green-lit similar proposals, solidifying a trend that defies partisan expectations and could have an outsized influence on next year’s federal elections. In the end, though, Ohio Republicans might have gotten off easy. Their referendum took place now, during an off-year with no voting for statewide office or president. Other state Republican parties might not be so lucky.
Glenn Younkin and Virginia hit a wall: The Youngkin 2024 bandwagon ran off the road on Tuesday, when Virginia voters denied the governor and his party the legislative majorities they craved. That means no 15-week abortion ban, which Youngkin backed as a “reasonable” solution that, in his telling, was going to douse the rage of Americans who disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year. It also likely puts to bed rumors that Youngkin, who has always insisted he had no ambitions to move north of Virginia, will attempt a late entry into the 2024 GOP presidential primary. The logic there turned on the governor’s ability to craft a coalition that included the far-right, the center-right and the pure centrist swing voter – or something akin to what won him the governor’s mansion in 2021.
Democrat Andy Beshear won reelection in Kentucky. But who lost? Andy Beshear won a second term on Tuesday in a state that Trump carried by more than 25 points in 2020. Now the real fight begins. Endorsed by Trump but often described as McConnell’s protégé, Daniel Cameron’s defeat will stir a lot of finger-pointing within the Republican Party. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was directing his at the former president shortly after the polls closed, calling the result “another loss for Trump.”
History-making wins in Rhode Island and Philadelphia Government will look a little more like the governed after Tuesday night’s results are all in. To start, Democrat Gabe Amo is the projected winner of Rhode Island’s special congressional election. He will be the first Black person to represent the state in Congress. And in Philadelphia, former city councilmember Cherelle Parker will become the first woman to lead the City of Brotherly Love.
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