While Tuesday night’s election results might not seem dramatic, they gave Democrats a lot of reasons to have confidence going into 2024. The party secured major victories in the key battleground states of Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well as Republican strongholds Ohio and Kentucky.
In Virginia, whose off-year races are seen as an early predictor for the outcome of the next presidential election, Democrats had a blowout night. They not only retained control of the state senate, the party also flipped the House of Delegates. It’s an outcome that can only be seen as a serious rebuke to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who had campaigned hard in these races in an ultimately failed attempt to flip the state Senate red.
In giving control of the lawmaking body to Democrats, voters in Virginia not only shot down Youngkin’s plan to ban abortion after 15 weeks — a scheme Republicans, using the obfuscating term “limit” to describe it, hoped would serve as a model for 2024. They also rejected his school policies that allowed for discrimination against trans students, as well as his tax proposals.
Among the Virginia Democratic party’s wins on Tuesday, State Delegate Danica Roem became the first openly trans State Senator in Virginia history when she defeated Republican Bill Woolf, a conservative ex-cop closely allied with Youngkin who campaigned on his opposition to trans rights.
“Why the heck should anyone outside the state of Virginia care about the results? ” asked Harry Enten, senior data reporter for CNN, said on the network Tuesday night.
“I’ll give you a reason,” Enten said. “The outcome of the Virginia Senate is actually a pretty good bellwether for what happens in the next year’s presidential race.”
In three of the last four presidential elections, American voters went the same way as Virginians voting for state senators, with the other election seeing a tie for the Virginia Senate.
With Pres. Joe Biden’s approval rating dropping, according to a recent poll, the Virginia results were good news for the White House and the Democrats, who also gained a little bit of ground in a couple of other Republican strongholds.
Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear easily won reelection against GOP nominee Daniel Cameron Tuesday in a state that typically votes Republican. And in Ohio, voters leaned left and approved a constitutional right to abortion and the legalization of marijuana, both by overwhelming margins.
Republican Presidential candidate Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey, said the election shows a trend away from Trump. He said Trump’s endorsement of Daniel Cameron doomed the Republican’s bid for Kentucky governor.
“Daniel Cameron was a rising star in the Republican Party until he decided to throw his lot in with Donald Trump,” Christie said on CNN Tuesday night, adding that Cameron “made a huge mistake by embracing Trump and selling his soul to him. That’s what he did, and the voters in Kentucky gave their verdict on politicians who sell their soul to Donald Trump.”
Christie argued that Trump’s ill effect on the party became obvious when Republicans lost the U.S. Senate a year ago, as several of his candidates were defeated. “Let’s face it, Donald Trump is political and electoral poison,” Christie said.
Despite Biden’s sagging popularity, Christie said Republicans should not underestimate his reelection bid, and need a better candidate who is not facing multiple criminal trials.
“Any Republican who is overconfident about beating Joe Biden next year is a foolish Republican,” Christie said.
In the other governor’s race, Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves easily won reelection over Democratic challenger Brandon Presley, an outcome that was in no way in doubt prior to election night.
But in Pennsylvania, Democrats also secured an important win, as Daniel McCaffrey won the race for the open seat on the state’s supreme court.
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