States across the country held legislative, gubernatorial, local and judicial elections yesterday, as well as considered a variety of hot-button issues on ballot initiatives. In almost every instance, Democrats carried the night, delivering a resounding blow to GOP optimism as focus shifts toward the 2024 elections.


In the most nationally prominent state-level election, for control of Virginia’s legislature under a new legislative map following redistricting, Democrats flipped the House of Delegates, gaining control after just two years of a Republican majority that was won in 2021. Democrats also protected the Senate majority they gained in 2019, dashing pre-election hopes by Republicans to contest tight seats in these newly drawn districts. The GOP message of economic prosperity under Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin did not resonate well enough with swing voters to protect and advance GOP control of the state.


Democrats, meanwhile, tied GOP candidates to former President Donald Trump and pinned them down on the issue of abortion. Youngkin has two years remaining as governor and cannot seek reelection per state law. Efforts to build on recent economic success through policies focused on jobs, small business and tax reform will meet staunch legislative opposition in the second half of his term. Of note regarding ABC-related issues, upon gaining full control of state government in 2019 for the subsequent two years, Democrats imposed a statewide prevailing wage and repealed the ABC-supported Fair and Open Competition Act that prohibited government-mandated project labor agreements.


In Kentucky, Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear successfully won reelection, even as Kentucky continues to be a GOP stronghold in the state legislature and in statewide federal elections. Notably, the state went for President Trump by a 26-point popular vote margin in the 2020 presidential election, but in nearly all of the past 100 years, only four Kentucky Republicans have been elected as governor, and none went on to win reelection.


New Jersey also held elections for its full legislature, and similarly with a new legislative map following redistricting. Democrats entered the night with full majority control, and GOP efforts focused on continuing to prevent a Democrat supermajority in both chambers with outside hopes of fully capturing one chamber for the first time in 20 years. That hope of flipping control was not realized, and Democrats retained their majority handily, even in seats seen as top-tier targets for GOP donors.


Ohio did not see any elections for state or local office but did pose two hot-button topics to voters in the form of ballot measures: abortion and the legalization of marijuana. The Ohio results follow months of national attention and financial investment by third-party groups, and a feeling that the outcomes would highlight messaging challenges or opportunities for national Republicans and Democrats moving into next year. Voters approved Issue 1 to establish a state constitutional right to abortion by a margin of 56.6% to 43.4%. They also approved Issue 2, the legalization of recreational marijuana, by an almost identical margin.


In Mississippi, Republican incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves won reelection outright with 51.6% of the vote, avoiding a runoff that would have been necessary if he did not clear the 50% threshold.