Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

A Disastrous Night for the GOP

It may be an odd year, but yesterday was Election Day. We are going to start with the good news for the Republican Party, because that won't take long: Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS) held on in his reelection bid against Brandon Presley, 52.5% to 47.5%. A fairly narrow Republican win in red, red Mississippi is not great news for the Party, but it's something.

Also, in Suffolk County, NY, Ed Romaine (R) defeated David Calone (D). That race was 57.1% to 42.9% when counting stopped; it will get closer, but not enough to save Calone. This result suggests, ever so slightly, that it will not be so easy for the blue team to break up the red team's burgeoning Long Island stronghold next year, even with a new House district map.

And other than that, it was pretty much a train wreck across the nation for the GOP. Taking things state by state:

Ohio: This, of course, is the biggie. State Republicans, from Gov. Mike DeWine on down, did everything they could to persuade their fellow Ohioans to reject Issue 1, and thus to reject protections for abortion rights. It did not work. It did not come CLOSE to working. The result, particularly given the red hue of the Buckeye State, was a romp, as voters there chose to protect abortion, 56% to 44%.

That makes six times, since Dobbs, that abortion access has been on the ballot in a state, and six times that the pro-choice side has won. And keep in mind, there's relatively little need to protect abortion access in blue states, so most of these victories are coming in purple and red states. If there was any doubt whatsoever that abortion access should be the focal point of the Democrats' 2024 platform, that doubt is gone. Meanwhile, what do Republicans have to counter this? The Ohio GOP tried exaggerations, outright lies, scare tactics, keeping people from voting, word games, lawsuits, and backdoor maneuvers (the attempt to increase the threshold for passage) and none of it worked. Republican strategists are going to earn their pay this year, because they've got a big problem on their hands.

Also, Ohioans happy about this result will be able to celebrate by lighting up a joint, as marijuana was legalized. Issue 2 passed by a margin similar to that of Issue 1, 56.6% to 43.4%. Where it is possible, expect Democrats to pair abortion and marijuana initiatives on state ballots in 2024.

Kentucky: This is the second biggest result... possibly. As expected, and despite much politicking by Republican giants in the state (e.g., Mitch McConnell and his PAC), Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) won reelection without breaking a sweat, 52.5% to 47.5%. And, as we've noted, he did it by running on abortion rights. That's another data point that will inform the Democrats' 2024 plans.

We do not especially believe that Beshear can "teach" Democrats how to win elections in purple or red states, any more than Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) has "taught" Republicans how to win elections in purple or blue states. However, Beshear is a young, charismatic Southern governor who has shown an ability to attract crossover votes. Does that profile sound familiar? Surely, his name will join those of Govs. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) and Gavin Newsom (D-CA) as promising Democratic options for 2028. And depending on what comes of that, well, we could look back at Nov. 7, 2023, in 5-10 years and conclude that Beshear's victory was actually the biggest story of the night. But that's a long-term thing, obviously.

Virginia: If we are thinking shorter-term, by contrast, the second biggest result last night came in Virginia, where the Democrats held the state Senate and also won the House of Delegates. There are still some races that won't be resolved until today or tomorrow (or longer than that), but it's already clear that the blue team will have at least 21 Senate seats (with 17 for the Republicans and 2 pending) along with 51 House of Delegates seats (with 44 for the Republicans and 5 pending).

Forgive us if we sound like a broken record (for our younger readers, this is a reference to old phonograph records that could break and repeat the same sound over and over), but this is all kinds of bad news for the Republicans. To start with, Glenn Youngkin went all-in on flipping the Senate (which the Democrats had already held) and holding the House of Delegates. He failed on both counts, which pretty much brings an end to Youngkin 2024 talk, and doesn't bode well for Youngkin 2028. It also means that people looking for a viable post-Trump leader for the party are going to have to keep looking. Also, Youngkin and his fellow Virginia Republicans championed a "middle way" position on abortion, namely a 15-week ban. So much for that. And finally, results in Virginia before a presidential election year generally serve as a bellwether for what's coming down the pike. If so, well, the Democrats are looking pretty good for 2024, particularly given the results elsewhere.

Turning our attention, at least briefly, to the specific state Senate races we highlighted yesterday, Russet Perry (D) won easily over Juan Segura (R) in previously red, but now swingy, VA-31, 53% to 47%. This one was a must-have for Youngkin, and he didn't get it. VA-16 is another swingy district, and was another must-have for the Governor, and was slightly more lopsided for the blue team, with Schuyler Van Valkenburg (D) defeating Siobhan Dunnavant (R), 54% to 46%.

Meanwhile, the House of Delegates race that gained notoriety thanks to Susanna Gibson's (D) pornographic camming is too close to call. David Owen (R) currently leads Gibson 51.2% to 48.4% with the mail-in ballots still to be counted. The mail-in ballots will skew Democratic, most probably, but will they skew enough to save Gibson? We'll know soon.

Pennsylvania: And since we are on the subject of bellwethers, Pennsylvania is very important to both parties next year thanks to its EVs (which, recall, went to Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020) and to next year's U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D) and (probably) Connecticut resident David McCormick (R). Yesterday's election for the open seat on the state Supreme Court was being watched closely, as a potential clue to what 2024 holds. And in that election, Daniel McCaffery (D) easily knocked off Carolyn Carluccio (R), 53% to 47%.

Also in the Keystone state, it was a foregone conclusion, but Philadelphia elected Cherelle Parker (D) as its new mayor. She leveled David Oh (R), 74.5% to 25.5%, and becomes the first woman to lead one of America's oldest cities.

Other States: Over in Rhode Island, another foregone conclusion came to pass, as Gabriel Amo (D) defeated Gerry Leonard (R), 64.8% to 35.2%, for the right to succeed David Cicilline in RI-01. Amo slightly outperformed Cicilline's 2022 result (the then-incumbent won 64.0% to 35.8%). Amo way overperformed Cicilline's very first election, and therefore the only one where Cicilline wasn't an incumbent, a 50.6% to 44.6% win. Take whatever conclusions from that you wish, but do recall that Cicilline's first election was 12 years ago, and that special elections, like the one Amo won last night, are wonky.

In New Jersey, the Democrats easily held the state Senate, capturing 25 seats to the Republicans' 15. That is exactly where things stood before the election, although a few seats did change hands. Most obviously, state Sen. Ed Durr (R), who won a surprise victory in 2021, was defeated by John Burzichelli (D), 53% to 47%. In the Assembly, the Democrats have claimed 47 seats to 27 for the Republicans, with six still up in the air. The up-in-the-air seats are likely to break 4D, 2R, which, if it holds, would mean a 51D, 29R assembly. Going into the election, it was 46D, 34R, so that would be a Democratic gain of five seats.

And the wacky election for mayor of Bridgeport, CT, has taken another wacky turn. Democrat-turned-independent John Gomes is leading with 43.5% of the vote. The incumbent who may have cheated Gomes out of the nomination thanks to ballot-box stuffing, Joseph Ganim (D), has 37%. Only 46% of the votes are in, so there's time for Ganim to catch up, which would—per court order—force a re-run of the primary. If Gomes can hold on, it would spare everyone responsible for running elections in Bridgeport a lot of headaches, since no new primary would be needed.

As we noted, not a good night for the party of Lincoln and Reagan. And it will not surprise you to learn that CNN used the occasion for extensive coverage of how much trouble Joe Biden is in. After all, who cares about actual election results when you have a poll from Siena College? Undoubtedly, The New York Times and The Washington Post will climb on the Biden-alarm-bell bandwagon today.

We've already gotten some very useful reports from readers who participated in yesterday's elections. We'll run some of those tomorrow; if you would care to weigh in, please do so. We'll also have additional "the day after" coverage, of course. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates