2023 Election Analysis

One Country Project
6 min readNov 13

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As Gov. Beshear succinctly put it, elections are “supposed to be about what you can get done for the people.” If Democrats continue to keep this as their guide, they will continue to perform well in elections across the country.

Topline Takeaways

Abortion will remain a driver of voter turnout and a winning issue for Democrats in elections for the foreseeable future. Until the Supreme Court’s wrongly reasoned decision in Dobbs v. Jackson is overturned, Republicans will be reaping the electoral whirlwind when they run on banning basic rights for women.

Republicans have experienced an enthusiasm problem in races across the country in the wake of the Dobbs decision.

● That trend continued last night, particularly in rural areas of Kentucky. Republican Daniel Cameron underperformed significantly in rural areas by 10-points on average — an effect attributable in large part to Republicans having an enthusiasm gap, while Democrats turned out at expected levels.

Democrat Andy Beshear ran 3.3-points ahead of his showing in 2019 and matched the electoral percentage Republican Matt Bevin reached in 2015 with 52.5-percent of the vote.

Ohio voters overwhelmingly voted to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution. This is now the seventh straight victory for abortion rights in state referendums, whether that was in deep red states (Kentucky, Kansas, Montana), swing states (Michigan, Ohio, Vermont), or Democratic strongholds (California).

Democrats holding the majority in the Virginia Senate and reclaiming the majority in the Virginia House of Delegates nullifies Governor Glenn Youngkin’s push for a statewide abortion ban and shows his ineffectiveness as a potential 2024 alternative to Trump. Again, abortion politics and a Republican enthusiasm gap have delivered a win to Democrats. Numerous variations on this tweet last night — “For sale, Youngkin for President merch. Never worn.” heralded Youngkin’s defeat.

Youngkin attempted to find a non-existent common ground on abortion by floating the idea of a 15-week ban. Voters clearly did not believe what he said and instead chose to respond to what Republicans have shown voters time and again.

Democrats performed well in rural areas of Virginia while running on abortion rights. Republicans underperformed on turnout in these same areas while running on an extremist abortion banning platform.

● In New Jersey, Democrats had the best election since 2019. Despite Republicans blustering, they would continue to narrow the margins in both chambers. Democrats held the line in the state senate and grew the caucus in the state house.

Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly elected Democrat Daniel McCaffrey to the state Supreme Court. Providing a key bulwark against court-based election theft attempts in 2024 and improving the Democrats chances of holding the court in 2027 when multiple Democratic justices are up for election or term-limited.

Four medium-sized Indiana cities flipped from Republican to Democratic Mayors. When Republicans can’t gerrymander the city limits it makes it hard for them to win elections.

Moms for Liberty backed school board candidates lost across the country last night. Including candidates who had been elected two years ago in COVID backlash elections being removed from office. Justice Antonin Scalia’s daughter lost a school board election in Charlottesville, VA to a trans candidate in a further rebuke of Republican culture war overreach. The much ballyhooed ‘parents rights’ movement of 2021 has clearly lost steam as the reactionary politics it promotes has alienated moderate voters.

● Although he ultimately came up short, Democrat Brandon Presley ran far ahead of any other Democrat on the ballot in Mississippi last night.

● After a tanker car’s worth of ink was spilled last year predicting the non-existent Red Wave, last night was another clear indicator of the enduring coalition of voters President Joe Biden has created. This is yet another election where Democrats beat the pundits and Republicans by appealing to voters on the issues they care about most.

● As long as Republicans remain fixated on unpopular culture war issues — banning abortion, taking away basic fundamental rights, politicizing education, demonizing transgender youths — and denying the outcome of elections, they will continue to cede ground to Democrats across the country.

● Taken together these results ­– combined with the overwhelmingly positive approval rating of nearly every state governor ­– paint a much different picture of the national political trend than recent right/track polling suggests. It bears asking the question once again — with incredibly low response rates and frequent oversampling of older, whiter, more conservative voters, is national polling broken?

Ohio referendums

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

If the current makeup of the court shifted to the right, it could have had a significant impact on the outcome of any redistricting fights in 2030 and other court cases surrounding fundamental rights in the state. Four Democratic justices face reelection or are termed out of office in 2027. Retaining this seat now makes protecting a Democratic majority a more attainable goal.

Legislative elections

New Jersey -

Previous: Democrats control the state House: 80 total seats (46 Dem seats, 34 Repub seats, 3 Ind and 3 vacancies); Democrats control the state Senate: 40 total seats (25 Dem seats, 15 Repub seats)

Outcome: Democrats control the state House (47 Dem seats, 27 Repub seats — 6 seats uncalled); Democrats control the state Senate (25 Dem seats, 15 Repub seats)

Virginia -

Previous: Republicans control the state House: 100 total seats (48 Repub seats, 46 Dem seats, 6 vacancies); Democrats control the state Senate: 40 total seats (22 Dem seats, 18 Repub seats)

Outcome: Democrats control the state House: 100 total seats (51 Dem seats, 47 Repub seats — 2 seats uncalled); Democrats control the state Senate: 40 total seats (21 Dem seats, 17 Repub seats — 2 seats uncalled)

Gubernatorial elections

Kentucky

Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear handily won re-election defeating MAGA extremist Daniel Cameron. Beshear made preserving abortion rights a central tenant of his campaign, while Cameron promised a draconian ban with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother.

Beshear performed better in rural counties than he did in 2019, indicating the continuing backlash to Republican overreach on social issues and the public’s distaste for the continued insistence on nominating election deniers.

The Beshear campaign’s “Hadley” commercial was a powerful spot. Versions of this ad are likely to be a part of numerous campaigns in future elections.

Mississippi

Republican Tate Reeves avoided a runoff election to win a second term in a closer than expected race. Reeves has been dogged by multiple public corruption scandals including spending tens of millions of dollars of federal welfare funds on projects benefiting friends, family and wealthy associates.

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