DemDaily: Tuesday’s Election Results! Abortion Drives Wins in Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky

November 8, 2023

Democrats, and the reproductive rights of Americans, prevailed yesterday in the top battleground elections of 2023.

The results provide a critical barometer of the mood of the electorate going into the 2024 presidential elections, and the undisputed power of abortion on the ballot.

Voters in Ohio resoundingly passed Issue 1, 56.6% to 43.4% -- becoming the seventh state, and the first led by a Republican, to enshrine reproductive rights in the state's constitution since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Approval of the Right to Make Reproductive Decisions Including Abortion Initiative ensures the “right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including including to make decisions on abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one's own pregnancy and miscarriage care."

The amendment would still allow the state to restrict abortion after fetal viability -- approximately 23 weeks -- unless the patient’s “treating physician” deems it necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.

The victory in the Midwest battleground that Donald Trump won by 8% in 2020 is a significant measure of an issue that could derail the increasingly conservative-lean of the Buckeye State going into next year's election.

In a major victory, Democrats won control of the State House of Delegates and maintained their majority in the Virginia's State Senate.

The results are a repudiation of conservative Governor Glenn Youngkin's policy agenda -- most notably his push for a 15 week abortion ban in the only state in the south where abortion remains legal. Abortion is permitted in the Old Dominion up to 26 weeks and six days, with an exception for danger to the life of the mother in the third trimester.

The decisive defeat marks the first time in more than 50 years that a sitting Virginia governor has lost a chamber -- and one that is likely to thwart, at least for the 2024 cycle, Youngkin's presidential ambitions.

Democrats flipped Republican's 52-48 majority in the House of Delegates to 51-48 in their favor, with one race still uncalled. In the State Senate, which Democrats controlled 22-18 going into election day, they are now holding a 21-19 majority, with the loss of one net seat.

High-profile Democratic victories in the State Senate include SD 16 (Henrico), where Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg (D) unseated incumbent Republican Siobhan Dunnavant 54% to 46%, and SD 30 (Prince William County) where Delegate Danica Roem (D) defeated Bill Woolf (R), 53% to 42% -- making Roem the first elected transgender State Senator in the South. In one of the most expensive State Senate races of 2023, at over $6.4 million, Democrat Russet Perry triumphed over conservative Juan Pablo Segura, 53%-47%, in SD 31 (Loudoun and Fauquier Counties).

In the House of Delegates, Josh Thomas (D) defeated John Stirrup (R), 52%-48%, in HD 21 (Prince William); Joshua Cole (D) defeated Lee Peters (R), 53%-47%, in HD 65 (Fredericksburg); and Democrat Michael Feggans unseated Delegate Karen Greenhalgh (R), 54%-46%, in HD 97 (Virginia Beach).

Outstanding: In House District 82, touted as the most competitive House seat of the election, incumbent Kim Taylor (R) is leading Democratic challenger Kimberly Pope-Adams (D), 50.3% to 49.7% -- pending the count of provisional ballots. At 98% reporting, Adams trailed Taylor by 173 votes - well within the recount threshold. The district covers portions of Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Prince George and Surry Counties,

Incumbent Democratic Governor Andy Beshear fended off a formidable challenge by Trump-endorsed Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, 52.5% to 47.5%.

Beshear, who boasts a 64% approval rating, is one of the most popular governors in the country, despite being a Democrat serving in a red state Trump won by 26%.

In the $70 million contest, the most expensive in the state's history, Beshear made the state's extreme abortion ban, which does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest, a centerpiece of the election.

The race was being closely watched as another proxy on abortion rights and a potential model for messaging to red state voters heading into 2024.

It was a blow to Trump, and Cameron's rising-star, while boosting the national profile of Beshear, who is frequently mentioned as a future presidential candidate.

In the gubernatorial election, four-term Public Commissioner and former Nettleton Mayor Brandon Presley (D) lost his challenge to incumbent GOP Governor Tate Reeves, 51.6%-47%.

A moderate, pro-life populist, Presley was Democrats' first hope in over two decades of retaking the Governor's mansion in the southern state Donald Trump won by 16%.

"Across the country tonight, democracy won and MAGA lost. Voters vote. Polls don't. Now let's go win next year" - President Joe Biden on the election results

Next UpThe other elections of 2023

DemDaily: Abortion on the Ballot 11/7/23
DemDaily: Eyes on Kentucky 11/2/23
DemDaily: The Hope of Mississippi 10/30/23
DemDaily: Countdown to Virginia, Your Guide to the Elections 10/24/23
DemDaily: Ohio Voters Reject Referendum in Victory for Abortion Rights 8/9/23

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Washington Post, New York Times, WJTV, Virginia Mercury, CNN, CBS

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