Races and issues on the ballot in Tuesday’s election could be indicators for which party could take control of Congress and the White House in the 2024 election—and whether Roe v. Wade’s reversal continues to drive voter turnout with a consequential abortion-rights measure in Ohio.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, is vying for a second term against the state’s Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron, in a close contest with both candidates polling at 47%, according to a recent Emerson College poll that found Beshear’s lead has declined significantly since an October poll found him leading by 16 points.
Despite Kentucky being a deep-red state where both chambers of the legislature are fully controlled by Republicans, and voters favored former President Donald Trump by 26 points in the 2020 election, Beshear has maintained widespread popularity, while Cameron, endorsed by Trump and a close ally of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is the first Black person elected as Kentucky’s attorney general and if elected, would be the state’s first Black governor.
Every seat in Virginia’s split legislature—controlled 22-17 by Democrats in the Senate and 52-48 by Republicans in the House of Delegates—is up for grabs Tuesday, and the results are considered a harbinger for the 2024 general election.
If Republicans maintain control of the Virginia House and flip the Senate, it could pave the way for Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s legislative agenda, which has largely been stalled by the Democrat-controlled Senate, including a ban on abortions at 15 weeks with some exceptions.
In Mississippi, voters could for the first time in 20 years elect a Democrat as governor if Brandon Presley, a public utilities commissioner and cousin of Elvis Presley, unseats Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, who is slightly favored to win, according to a Magnolia Tribune/Mason-Dixon poll that showed Reeves had an 8-point lead as of early October, though those margins have narrowed, according to Cook Political Report, which called the race “the most surprising” of the three gubernatorial contests on the ballot this year.
Ohio voters will decide whether to protect abortion rights and legalize recreational marijuana: The ballot measure known as Issue 1 would enshrine the right to seek abortions in the state Constitution, while Issue 2 would allow people over the age of 21 to grow up to six marijuana plants, possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and about a half-ounce of extract (polls show about 60% of voters are in favor of both measures).
What To Watch For
Ohio’s abortion issue is considered a bellwether for similar measures expected to be on the ballot in 2024 in other states, including New York, Maryland, Arizona and Florida. Ohio passed a six-week abortion ban that was blocked by the courts amid legal challenges from abortion clinics. If the measure passes, Ohio would follow suit with votes in six other states—Kansas, Michigan, California, Vermont, Kentucky and Montana—who approved abortion rights measures last year.
Several mayoral races are on the ballot Tuesday, in addition to a special election for a House seat in Rhode Island and a vacancy on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In the sole Congressional race, Democrat Gabe Amo is expected to beat Republican Gerry Leonard to fill the seat of former Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) after he stepped down in February. The seat has been held by Democrats for nearly 30 years. Houston voters will choose between 17 candidates, including Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, to replace term-limited Mayor Sylvester Turner. In the third gubernatorial race (besides Kentucky and Mississippi) on the ballot this year, Republican attorney general Jeff Landry won his election in October to replace term-limited Gov. John Bel Edwards.