WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats had plenty of good news to celebrate in Tuesday’s elections and more evidence that they can win elections centered on the national debate over abortion.
Abortion rights supporters won a ballot measure in Ohio and Democratic Governor of Beet Red Kentucky retained his position by campaigning on reproductive rights and portraying his opponent as an extremist. A Democrat won an open seat in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania after campaigning on his promise to defend the right to abortion. And the Democrats took full control of the Virginia Statehousepreventing Republicans from being able to pass new restrictions on abortion and causing a defeat against Governor Glenn Youngkin that could quell any buzz about late entry in the GOP presidential primary.
These victories will not be enough to reassure Democrats as next year’s presidential election approaches. The off-year elections have major implications in all of these states and provide insight into American politics heading into 2024. But two big names – Joe Biden and Donald Trump – were not on the ballot this time around . How Americans perceive them will be a determining factor in next year’s race.
Here are some key results from Tuesday’s vote.
What you need to know about Tuesday’s elections
ABORTION REMAINS POWERFUL FOR DEMOCRATS
Democrats notched two early victories Tuesday night in Kentucky and Ohio, states that voted for Trump in 2020. In both states, abortion was the main campaign issue.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear won re-election in a state that Trump had won by 26 percentage points. Beshear had criticized the abortion views of his Republican challenger, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, in debates and television ads. A Announcement Beshear featured a woman who suffered a miscarriage after being raped by her stepfather at age 12, expressing disbelief at Cameron’s opposition to abortion in cases of rape and incest.
In Ohio, a adoption of an electoral measure preserving the right to abortion in a state that Trump won by eight percentage points in 2020. Republicans had already tried to derail the measure by calling an unusual referendum in August to make it harder for ballot measures to pass, a move that was roundly rejected by Ohio voters.
Later Tuesday, Dan McCaffery won an open seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after positioning himself as a defender of the right to abortion. And in Virginia, Democrats held the state Senate and ceded control of the Virginia House of Delegates to the GOP.
The findings suggest a transformed political landscape since securing a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. overturned a federal right to abortion last year. Measures on the right to abortion were adopted in a plethora of States as some other Republican-led states have instituted new bans on the procedure.
Abortion rights may not be an important enough issue to swing an election on its own. Several Republican governors who supported new bans won re-election last year, including Mike DeWine of Ohio, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas.
But abortion was the key issue across the country on Tuesday. And that should worry Republicans in competitive races next year.
GOOD EVENING TO THE DEMOCRATS, BUT MAYBE NOT FOR 2024
It was a good night for Democrats after a string of special election victories and follows better results in last year’s midterm elections, which are typically landslides for the ruling party in Washington .
But neither race was an up or down decision on incumbent President Biden. And none featured Trump on the ballot or his ability to boost turnout among infrequent voters.
Democrats performed well in recent special elections and were successful better than expected in 2022. It increasingly appears that the party is starting from a position of strength. But it’s not clear whether that translates to its 80-year-old president, who faces widespread skepticism about one’s job performance and whether he is too old to serve a second term.
We’ll have to wait until 2024 to see how Biden fares.
YOUNGKIN FALLS ON FOOT
Glenn Youngkin burst onto the political scene in 2021, scoring a surprise victory to become Republican governor of Virginia, a state Biden won handily the previous year. By putting a moderate, fatherly spin on modern Republicanism, Youngkin has generated buzz that he might even make a late, surprise entry into the GOP presidential primary after this month’s election.
Instead, Youngkin said he would focus on the 2023 congressional elections and winning full Republican control of Virginia’s government. Things didn’t turn out the way he hoped.
Youngkin raised tens of millions of dollars so Republicans could defend their majority in the Virginia House of Delegates and take control of the Senate, which Democrats narrowly held in 2021. Among the things the legislature could do with this majority, he said, there was the adoption of a 15 He favored a one-week abortion ban.
Youngkin didn’t really have a path forward in the presidential primary — his window to run for office is already closed in some states. Virginia has an unusual single-term limit for governors, making Youngkin’s political future even more problematic.
Whatever he does, he’ll have to explain 2023. And he’ll face unified Democratic control of the state for the rest of his term.
THE DEMOCRATS HOTEL
It was a good night for the Democrats, but it could only go so far.
The party invested heavily in an unlikely place: Mississippi, where Brandon Presley, better known as Elvis Presley’s first cousin, was challenging Republican Gov. Tate Reeves.
The party hoped that Presley’s celebrity and political skills, coupled with change in a centuries-old arrangement originally designed to prevent black candidates from winning statewide races, could mean an improbable victory. But it was not to be.
Reeves won the race. There are few lessons to be learned from a party failing in a state where its 2020 presidential candidate lost by 17 points except one of the oldest — you can’t win them all.
Political candidates broke barriers by scoring a handful of victories Tuesday.
Former Biden White House aide Gabe Amo will become Rhode Island’s first Black member of Congress after winning the special election in that state’s 1st Congressional District.
The son of West African immigrants, Amo emerged from a 12-candidate primary in September to succeed outgoing Rep. David Cicilline. On Tuesday, Amo defeated Republican Gerry Leonard, a Marine veteran, in the heavily Democratic district.
And Philadelphia will have its first female mayor after Democrat Cherelle Parker defeated Republican David Oh in the majority Democratic city.