Democrats and abortion rights advocates scored a series of electoral victories in the United States on Tuesday, an early sign that reproductive rights remain an important issue ahead of the 2024 presidential race.
- Ohio voters enshrined the right to abortion in the state constitution, a year and a half after Roe v Wade was overturned.
- The outcome paves the way for progressives to continue to focus on the issue and win support in other states.
- Democrats took control of both Virginia legislative chambers, and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear won re-election in Kentucky.
In Ohio, a state that voted for Republican Donald Trump by 8 percentage points in the 2020 presidential election, voters approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to abortion, Edison Research projected.
This result continues a streak of invincibility for abortion access advocates since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn its 1972 Roe v. Wade ruling and eliminate the right national authority to terminate a pregnancy.
In Virginia, Democrats took control of both legislative chambers, according to the Associated Press.
The result was a rebuke for Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who campaigned hard for Republican candidates and sought to unify them around his proposal to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
And in Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear won a second four-year term, Edison projected, defying the deep red leanings of a state that voted for Mr. Trump by more than 25 percentage points in 2020.
These contests are among many across the United States that offer critical clues about where the electorate stands with less than 10 weeks before Iowa’s presidential nomination race kicks off in earnest of the 2024 presidential campaign.
The results could help assuage concerns among some national Democrats who worry about President Joe Biden’s unpopularity with voters.
In a statement, Mr. Biden praised the Ohio result, saying: “Tonight, Americans once again voted to protect their fundamental freedoms – and democracy won. »
Mr. Beshear defeated Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who would have been the state’s first black chief executive.
Despite his party affiliation, Mr. Beshear has maintained high approval ratings in Kentucky, buoyed by his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters.
He also ran in favor of protecting abortion rights, even though he is powerless to overturn the state’s near-total ban.
In his victory speech, Mr. Beshear called his victory “a clear declaration that the politics of anger should end here and now.”
Results chart path for progressives
Ohio is just the latest state on the abortion battleground in American politics, nearly a year and a half after the Supreme Court’s decision, and it won’t be the last.
Abortion rights groups that scored victories last year by registering abortion referendums in several states, including conservative ones, have doubled down on this strategy.
The outcome in Ohio will bolster efforts already underway to bring similar ballot measures to voters in several states in 2024, including the swing states of Arizona and Florida.
Anti-abortion forces campaigned against the Ohio amendment as too extreme, while abortion rights groups warned that rejecting it would pave the way for a strict ban.
Tuesday’s vote overturned a six-week limit that the Republican-controlled Legislature previously approved. This law was suspended pending a legal challenge.
In Virginia, all 40 Senate seats and all 100 House of Delegates seats were up for grabs.
Democrats have sought to make abortion the priority issue. Mr. Youngkin presented his 15-week limit proposal as a moderate compromise, a tactic he hoped could serve as a model for Republicans next year.
He invested millions of dollars from his political action committee in the race, and a Republican victory likely would have amplified calls from some party donors for him to enter the presidential race.
Mr. Biden also added his weight to Virginia races last week, throwing his support behind 16 Democrats in competitive House races and seven in the Senate, while sending a fundraising appeal to his supporters.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Mississippi’s Republican governor, Tate Reeves, won a second term against his Democratic challenger, Brandon Presley, a former mayor and first cousin of singer Elvis Presley, according to Edison’s projections.
Mr. Presley raised more money than Mr. Reeves, but faced an uphill climb in a state that voted for Mr. Trump over Mr. Biden by more than 16 percentage points in 2020.
Mr. Reeves and Mr. Cameron of Kentucky have both been endorsed by Mr. Trump, the favorite for his party’s nomination to the White House in 2024, despite a litany of legal entanglements.